What Brazilian young students have to say about synthetic biology?

What Brazilian young students have to say about synthetic biology?

Author: Rosicler Neves – Museum of Life Fiocruz, Brazil

Renata Fontanetto
Rosicler Neves
Lais Rodrigues
Luis Victorino

In Brazil, there are still few proposals to engage the public in cutting edge scientific research topics, especially when dealing with controversial issues. Synthetic biology (BS) is an area of knowledge with a wide range of potential applications perceived as benefitial. But there are also potential risks and applications that raise ethical issues. Researches are being carried out in the country and the area is perceived vital. Although important, the subject is little-known by the public. In this context, the Museum of Life started the Biosin Project, linked to SYNENERGENE, an international project under the coordination of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, supported by the European Commission. The Biosin Project brought together a group of six students (15 to 19 years old), museum educators and scientists, aimed at debating BS with the public. The six students developed 15 short videos about BS using mobile phones. This study intended to investigate the themes and issues explored in this videos to better understand what the students perceived as important. The sample consisted of clips (an edited excerpt from the videos), analyzed with a protocol elaborated specifically for this purpose, considering sociocultural perspectives. We identified five main themes: what is BS, how BS works, scientists in Brazil, BS and local problems, ethical issues of BS. Our findings indicate the youngs aimed to explain what BS is, but not only. They explored local problems and proposed political questions about the role of the scientific research and its applications. The study is helping us to deeper the discussion on how better design science communication projects to promote critical thinking about science, considering Brazilian challenges and cultural features, and how to be more inclusive.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Show, tell and talk
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices