The ESRs organised and took part in public engagement activities in Croatia from 16-18 June 2019, which included distribution of flyers, children’s workshop, and a university talk).
The materials for the activities were prepared by the ESRs and will be used again in the future for other public engagement events, which can be delivered by each ESR alone, together when they are on secondments, or as a group during a network meeting. Some of the materials are also available for download on this page.
Flyers that had been professionally designed in Croatia were distributed to the general public in a popular area in the centre of Split. The aim was to engage in communication with the general public, disseminating IMforFUTURE goals and research activity in particular, as well as the relevance of science and research in general. This included the impact of environmental and other factors on ageing and ageing-related diseases as well as in the healthy population.
About 200-250 flyers were distributed, with a broad range of ages and nationalities reached. The ESRs had fun and the people who were interested were good quality and spent time talking to the ESRs. The ESRs found that middle-aged and elderly people were interested about the topic of ageing, while younger people were more interested in the research.
The flyer can be downloaded here.
This took place at a school in Omis and involved 20 children who were about 13 years old. Biological and statistical topics were discussed, and the children responded well; they were active and interested, and it was easy to communicate with them in English. The workshop consisted of different activities as follows:
1. Introductive presentation:
All ESRs were introduced and it was briefly stressed the multicultural and multidisciplinary aspect of IMforFUTURE.
2. DNA transcription and translation activity:
The main concepts of genetics, such as the DNA structure, the bases pair rules, DNA transcription to mRNA and its translation to proteins, were introduced. This presentation provided the necessary concepts for the following game activity, where the children were asked to “stage” the DNA transcription and translation process. Starting from provided DNA sequences, the children were asked to reconstruct the complementary mRNA and tRNA sequences, choosing and arranging in the right order the cards provided. Finally, flipping the correctly arranged tRNA cards the children were able to obtain the final amino acids chain encoded by the starting DNA sequence – a short example of the dynamic is provided below:
3. From DNA to N-Glycopeptide activity:
As a follow-up of the previous activity, a similar dynamic was proposed to the children. This time however, amino acids were represented by 3D structures, with different shapes and colours. The children were thus asked to reconstruct a three-dimensional amino acids chain, starting from provided DNA sequences. Flexibility and folding property of the three-dimensional amino acidic structure were explained and stressed to the children, together with amino-acids features (e.g. essentials vs non-essentials amino acids, where amino acids can be found in food).
As a final step, also glycans were introduced: after talking about their structure, their role in the protein, the protein consensus sequence and their relevance in pharmaceutics, the children were asked to complete the 3D amino acidic chain (where appropriate) with little balls mimicking glycan structures – see the picture here as an example.
4. “Snake and Ladders of healthy ageing” game:
The ESRs created from scratch a board game (shown below) starting from the traditional idea of the Snakes and Ladders game, but featuring images and text boxes related to good and bad habits/life choices that impact the process of ageing. Each child was equipped with a printed version of the board game and a dice so that they were able to play to game. The children took this game with them, and it is hoped that they will play it at home with family and friends, so that the theme goes further. The game (with scientific references) is available for download here.
5. Networks activity:
The children were introduced to the concept of networks through easy and daily life examples (e.g. network of friends, network of cities, Facebook and Internet). To make the children better understand the concept, games/quizzes with networks were proposed to them to solve in groups.
The first game was about a network of friendships inside a classroom where kids had to reconstruct the source and the path of a spreading rumour.
The second game consisted of a map of Europe with cities linked by different means of transportation and under different constraints they had to find the cheapest way to travel from one to another destination. This game is available for download here with the instructions available here.
Students from the Faculty of Science of the University of Split were invited to attend a talk that was prepared by the ESRs. The talk consisted of details about Marie- Skłodowska-Curie ITNs in general, the purpose and activity of IMforFUTURE, the background and current research of each ESR, and the challenges and opportunities of doing a PhD.