The Multi-Site Public Engagement with Science - Synthetic Biology (MSPES) project, publicly referred to as Building with Biology, was a three year project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that promoted public engagement with science (PES) - a model of mutual dialogue and learning between public and scientist audiences - through the creation and distribution of PES kits to nearly 200 informal science education sites around the United States. Kits included two types of learning experiences: 1) hands-on activities with which scientists facilitated brief interactions with visitors of all ages at a public event, and 2) forum programs during which scientists and pubic participants engaged in 1-2 hour guided discussions. Both activity types focused on socio-scientific issues in the field of synthetic biology.
In 2017, NSF provided supplemental funding that allowed the project team to develop a forum focused on the topic of human genome editing - in part as a response to the 2017 report on human genome editing published by the National Academy of Sciences. The topic was touched on in certain Building with Biology activities, making it a natural bridge for the project team to expand its public engagement with science.
These two reports detail the evaluation efforts of the Building with Biology project:
- Building with Biology Participant Impact Evaluation Report (Museum of Science, 2018)
- Report focuses on outcomes for public audiences who engaged in public events with hands-on activities and forum programs
- Multi-Site Public Engagement with Science - Synthetic Biology Final Evaluation Report (Rockman et al, 2018)
- Report focuses on outcomes for the scientists and informal science educators involved in the project
In addition to the evaluation reports, an article was published in the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, Fostering Conversation about Synthetic Biology Between Publics and Scientists: A Comparison of Approaches and Outcomes, that highlights project outcomes.
Citation: Todd K, Haupt G, Kollmann E, Pfeifle S. 2018. Fostering conversation about synthetic biology between publics and scientists: a comparison of approaches and outcomes. J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. 19(1): doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1434
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number DRL 1421179. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Museum of Science
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