The Building with Biology kit is designed to help museum and scientist partners engage public audiences in conversations and hands-on activities about the field of synthetic biology and the ways this emerging technology is interconnected with society.
Guide to hosting an event that brings scientists and the public together in an informal setting.
This 50-minute program includes an introduction to the nanoscale science, conversation time for the participants and 2 ten-minute plays that stimulate conversation about the impact the field of nanoscale science may have on our lives. It also gets the audience thinking about how we should respond -- both individually and collectively -- to those potential impacts. This theater program was performed at the Science Museum of Minnesota and as an outreach program for high school students. The plays have also been performed individually as part of forums.
To help support Summer 2016 Building with Biology event host sites, we're offering several upcoming professional development opportunities for host site staff, volunteers, and scientists. Online workshops will provide an overview on public forums, the contents in the Building with Biology physical kit, and event and forum evaluations.
New tools—like "CRISPR"—are making it possible to edit DNA with great precision. Soon, we will be able to accurately alter targeted sections of the genome of other animals and plants, as well as our own DNA. But should we? In this forum, participants can discuss the positive and negative possibilities of altering genomes, along with their own hopes and fears around the technologies of synthetic biology.
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.
The NISE Network held a pre-conference workshop titled, “Dialogue and Deliberation: Building a Better Forum,” at the 2008 Association of Science -Technology Centers Conference (see Appendix for agenda). In addition to the four-hour workshop, a two and a half hour forum was held the night before at The Franklin Institute. The forum covered the topic of nanotechnology and privacy. All participants were surveyed for their feedback about the forum and workshop.
This forum plays on very real concerns and fears of students: academic performance and taking standardized tests. The crux of this forum is: if there was a supplement or embedded nanotechnology available to the public that will enhance your cognitive abilities by making you smarter or give you instantaneous access to the internet, how would you or local community handle it? Is it cheating? By taking on roles that are somewhat familiar to them, they can put themselves into the shoes of decision makers whether they are parents, teachers, or principals.
Every time we use a credit card, swipe a subway pass, or send an email we are sharing personal information about ourselves. Just how is the information used? How do we balance an individual’s right to privacy vs. community safety? What do you consider a civil liberty? And who ultimately sets these standards?
This study was conducted as a part of the formative evaluation of the NISE Network forum “Nanotechnology: Risks, Benefits, and Who Decides?”