This is a set of printable materials for your Building with Biology event's "How might synthetic biology change our lives?" sticky note graffiti wall. These materials invite visitors to imagine all the ways the new technologies and techniques of synthetic biology could affect their lives, now and in the future. Visitors write their thoughts on sticky notes and share them on the "graffiti wall."
These colorful, printable posters introduce visitors to the principles of synthetic biology. One shows synthetic biologists at work, and the other features the student teams at the 2014 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) synthetic biology competition.
This is a Building with Biology forum in which participants have a chance to learn about a synthetic biology topic and then engage in a guided conversation and make a plan of action. In this case, the participants are both scientists and members of the public, the topic is genetically engineered mosquitoes, and the plan is a decision about whether to release genetically engineered mosquitoes in Mombasa, Kenya. Participants get the chance to practice critical thinking skills and apply them to a real-world socio-scientific issue.
In this Building with Biology activity, visitors explore the potential for engineered viruses to deliver beneficial, targeted genetic information to sites throughout the body, and discuss their hopes and concerns regarding this technology. Visitors create a model of the technology by combining multiple strands of yarn (DNA) and placing them in takeout containers covered in instructions (viruses' protein shells, or capsids).
In this Building with Biology activity, visitors consider the potential advantages and disadvantages of various areas of synthetic biology research, before investing in them with "tech tokens." Then, visitors assume the role of a different character, and consider how that person's synthetic biology priorities and concerns might differ from his or her own. By talking through their decisions, and those of other visitors, players start to see how each person's values determine what technologies are developed and adopted.
This is a hands-on Building with Biology activity. Visitors learn about the ways synthetic biologists can solve problems through creativity and the engineering process. Visitors are first challenged to design a superhero (by attaching cut-out features to a paper template, or by drawing them on) to rescue a person falling from a tall building. Then, visitors use that same creative engineering process to design a single-celled organism to clean up an oil spill.
This is a hands-on activity in which visitors learn about the fundamental component of biology and synthetic engineering: DNA. In the activity, visitors will extract visible DNA from wheat germ, and create necklaces to display their own sample of wheat germ DNA.
This is a hands-on activity for Building with Biology, in which visitors explore the engineering aspect of synthetic biology by solving challenges through building a model cell with standardized genetic parts. Many genetic components can be used as part of the solution to multiple problems. Kits of standardized genetic parts—like "BioBricks"—are already being developed for real-world applications.
"Bio Bistro" is a card-based personal choice activity, in which visitors decide what current and future synthetic biology-based food products they would, would not, or might eat. They share their opinions on why they made each choice, and discuss what problems researchers are trying to solve with these foods, and what they like or don't like about these solutions.
This 7-minute video was developed as part of the Building with Biology project and is designed to help create conversations in museums among scientists and public audiences about the emerging field of synthetic biology and its societal implications.