Biofilm Outreach: A Sneak Peek Into Past Funded Projects
We recently launched our last call for applications to our Public Engagement and Outreach Grant under our current NBIC financial round, which finishes at the end of 2022. We look forward to receiving your applications! As this is the last round, we wanted to give you more insight about the grants and previous applications we have awarded.
Originally, the grants we offered were for up to £500. After one year of existence, we decided to increase substantially them to up to £3000, to allow for larger projects to take place. Funding can indeed be used not only on materials and consumables, but also on staff time, external contractors, etc. We feel this has been working fairly well for our applicants, and enabled many exciting projects to be curated and delivered. We are typically looking for project which can have a long-lasting impact, for instance by creating a resource that can be used by all NBIC members later. The projects need to relate to biofilms, but do not have to relate solely to biofilms.
The first project which was funded by our current ‘version’ of the grant is the MicroBatte card game by the Quadram Institute. The project was funded in July 2020, and the outcome was released in August 2021. Public Engagement and outreach projects do take time to complete, we do expect this, and this is why this is the last call for funding as part of the current financial round of NBIC.
At the last call for projects, we received many ideas, and decided to fund 4. We are looking to fund a similar number of projects this upcoming round. Below are some of the abstracts received from funded projects in the last round.
Biofilms for Beginners
We monitored river biofilm to better understand the role of substrate in the maintenance and development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). We are keen to communicate four key messages: 1) Biofilms provide important ecological functions in our freshwaters 2) Biofilm provides a site for exchange of resistance genes 3) Antimicrobials and ARGs in can change biofilm function and 4) Inappropriate use of antimicrobials is destructive to freshwater environments. We will compile project video footage and photographs with new material and graphics into a film with voiceover to address what biofilms are and how they can be impacted by antibiotic use – addressing the above messages. This will be adapted into two versions – one for each target audience. Complemented by additional children’s activities including how to make a (pretend) play-slime-based biofilm and a downloadable biofilm-themed activity book, materials will be freely available to primary schools for the autumn term, through virtual presence at the Royal Highland Show and via both institutes’ social media/webpages. It will also be offered as a Curious Show (Royal Society of Edinburgh) and reported to NERC/DST and Scottish Government through existing reporting. – Claire Abel, James Hutton Institute.
Power-FULL Biofilms intends to bring to schools an interactive workshop which will enthuse, inspire, and engage children with the world of Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs). MFCs turn organic matter or waste into electricity through electroactive biofilms, that as part of their metabolism release electrons. The project investigates the possibility of producing electricity from waste (mud from the school ground) and using the harnessed electricity to power a small gadget. The students during this 5-week workshop series will build their own MFCs, inoculate them using mud, feed them with nutrients and monitor their growth by recording their voltage output. At the end of the 5-weeks the students will connect the MFCs electrically and see if they can power-up a small gadget. This workshop series will introduce the kids to microbiology, biofilm growth, electricity, engineering, renewable energy and experimental design.
This workshop can be both delivered inside and outside the classroom, to comply with COVID restrictions with the assistance of the lead applicant and student ambassadors. Schools now are lacking enrichment activities, so this project is very timely. Power-FULL Biofilms is a hands-on workshop series accompanied by weekly interactive presentation sessions which will encourage the children to think scientifically about problem solving. – Pavlina Theodosiou, Newcastle University.
A Germ’s Journey: A Fight Against Resistance
Interactive educational resources to improve children’s understanding of Antimicrobial Resistance. Antibiotic resistance is a worldwide problem, by 2050 many antibiotics that we rely on today will no longer be effective. One solution is increased education on the importance of appropriate use of these drugs. A key age to introduce this concept is between 7- 11 years. Concepts that children need to understand include; the importance of completing courses of antibiotics, not sharing antibiotics, the difference between a virus and bacteria and when treatment is required. Understanding the importance of these actions from a young age will help in the fight against antibiotic resistance and preserve current antibiotics for future use. “A Germ’s Journey – A Fight Against Resistance” resources teach children the importance of their actions in combating antibiotic resistance in a fun and interactive way. Within the school workshops/train-the-trainer sessions (5-10) bacterial growth will be explored including biofilms and how they play a role in the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Pre-and-post assessments (worksheets (for children), questionnaires & focus groups (teachers)) of the increase in children’s knowledge will be conducted to evaluate the impact of the resources/teaching on children’s understanding of AMR. – Katie Laird, De Montfort University.
We hope these abstracts can inspire you in designing exciting public engagement. Remember to make then fun and enjoyable for you too – that’s the key to a good public engagement project!
If you need any help with designing your project prior to submitting the application, do contact our Public Engagement & Outreach Officer at J.C.Denis@ed.ac.uk
Dr Jean-Christophe Denis, Public Engagement & Outreach Officer