September 14, 2023
In our ever evolving world, the influence of science reaches far beyond laboratory walls. Science permeates every facet of our lives, revealing an infinite array of applications in the complex tapestry of the natural world that surrounds us. It fuels the technology that powers our smartphones, provides the colours on our walls and heals our bodies.
Knowledge is crucial in our economy today and its importance is increasing due to the speed at which it spreads. The success of our economy relies on the relationship between science, technology, and innovation, which emphasizes the importance of education and lifelong learning. It is essential for everyone to have a basic understanding of math and science principles. Scientific literacy enables us to develop critical thinking skills, which helps us solve problems and make informed decisions. This knowledge is useful beyond just academic settings and impacts how we interact with products, choose careers, and handle everyday challenges.
Genome BC’s outreach activities aim to explore the wonders of science and its boundless potential. The outputs of our efforts endeavour to create an inspiring odyssey that will ignite curiosity and demonstrate the extraordinary role science plays in shaping our lives. Public outreach activities are meant to inform, educate and excite — making science relevant to all — with the aim of driving curiosity and opening a gateway to a world of endless possibilities.
The ‘Nice Genes!’ podcast started as an idea and has since flourished into an award-winning show with a large and diverse audience. One of the goals was to broaden our audience, engaging young women in Canada and promoting scientific curiosity. With over half of its listeners under 34 years old, it boasts a diverse and predominantly female audience. 85% of its listeners are from Canada.
As the podcast matured from a promising seedling in its first season to a robust sapling in its second, growth and engagement continued. Its audience listened to, on average, 25% more of the episodes than the industry standard, which is a clear indication that the listeners have engaged with the fascinating stories host, Dr. Kaylee Byers, shares in each episode. Ideas for episode topics came from the podcast team, Education, and Genomics and Society teams, to ensure that these topics were of interest to the general public, beneficial for teachers to use in the classroom, engaging for school students, presented in a balanced way, and highlighted the depth and breadth of genomic research.
Podcasts have been enriched through the addition of support materials, including scientist profiles and ‘Learn-a-Long’ sheets to “align with curriculum and make it easy for teachers to integrate into their lesson plans, providing a comprehensive and impactful learning experience for students.
This year, the Education team also collaborated with the Genomics and Society team to develop engaging classroom activities that connect students with the world of genomics research. One of these activities is the “Genomics & Society Role Playing Game.” This game immerses students in a topic of debate, encouraging them to adopt different personas and perspectives to explore the impacts of genomics on society, industry, government, and science. By incorporating social and emotional learning, this workshop contributes to the BC curriculum and expands entry points for genomics learning. Genome BC’s public-facing events also allowed for engagement with diverse audiences. The Genomics Forum ‘Climate Emergency: Smart Solutions for a Sustainable Future’ held in May 2022 and the Annual Don Rix Distinguished Keynote Address ‘Biodiversity Conservation in the Age of Extinction’, by Dr. Carolyn Hogg, held in November 2022, each attracted large audiences who were keen to hear about developments in conservation and how genomics is helping the planet. The success of the Genomics Forum inspired the ‘Nice Genes!’ team to focus Season Two of the podcast on conservation and allowed for the successful cross pollination of topics and guests. Additionally, the Communications team was able to find additional ways to share the research of some podcast guests, including featuring cutting-edge elephant research in a short series of videos to share with the public and school students, which were designed to bust myths about genomics.
As Genome BC continues to navigate the ever changing digital landscape, staying on top of the latest trends and trying new approaches is key to their continued growth and development. Collaboratively, the Communications, Education, and Genomics and Society teams have utilized data to identify gaps in their outreach and developed new and engaging content, which has led to increased engagement with their audiences. The team looks ahead to the coming year with anticipation and excitement, ready to continue collaborative efforts that maximize the team’s talents and ideas.
This article appears in Genome BC’s 2022/23 Annual Report. View the whole report here.