Outreach and Engagement Activities

ScienceX: On the 22nd and 23rd April 2017 researchers from the University of Manchester will be taking over the Trafford Centre and talking to members of the general public about science and engineering. This Science Extravaganza event, or #ScienceX, was run last year with great success (engaging ~10,000 people) and included contributions from many departments and institutes, including the MIB. This year, members of SYNBIOCHEM and the RRI team will be sparking discussions with shoppers around the use of bacteria to produce menthol, looking at the various products people use that contain this flavour / fragrance molecule

British Science Week 2017: Using interactive demonstration of fragrance compounds, visitors to the Universities annual British Science Week fair were engaged with the potential of synthetic biology approaches to green and sustainable chemical manufacture. ~1100 students, ages 9 – 14, visited the event in the Sackville Street Building between 14th and 17th March.   MIB scientists and members of the 2017 Manchester iGEM team were on the stand for the first 4 sessions (16 scientists in total). On the last day, 2 researchers from sociology and the Business School ran a different stand, collecting opinions on production of menthol using synthetic biology.

A sticker survey was used to assess the perceptions of school-aged children with regards to genetically-modified bacteria as a means of producing flavour and fragrance chemicals. After learning about all the options, the majority of participants across all 4 sessions voted for synthetic biology as opposed to agriculture or synthetic chemistry as their preferred production methods.

Multilingual Science at the Huaxia Mandarin School:  A second visit in March 2017,  to a local supplementary language school organised in partnership with Multilingual Manchester.  This time 4 researchers (Dr. Cunyu Yan, Dr. Jane Kwok, Dr. Nick Weise and Kun Huang) introduced students to the chemistry of enzymes and sugars in Mandarin Chinese.

The session, on 19th March,  included short talks from each of the Mandarin-speaking scientists on their research, enzyme demonstrations and an arts-and-crafts style glycan building

jervisSchool talks: Our researchers regularly visit local schools and colleges – Adrian Jervis our Senior Experimental Officer who provides pathway assembly expertise as part of our “Build” team recently visited Japan and spent a day at the Hiroo Gakuen Junior and High school.

MIB Open Day 2016: On 18th November the MIB once again opened its doors to approx. 225 A’ level students. The SYNBIOCHEM Centre provided interactive stands (RRI menthol; Flavours and Fragrances; Enzyme pathway discovery), a SynBio talk and a GFP E. coli laboratory demonstration.

Feedback from our outreach stands has surprised us – Synthetic Biology may be more easily accepted in the field of chemicals production than anticipated!

To find out more about our Outreach and Engagement activities, please contact Nicholas Weise, Public Engagement Programme Manager,  nicholas.weise@manchester.ac.uk