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Engaging Communities with Synthetic Biology through Games

Almost 30 students from UniTrento and ECIU (European Consortium of Innovative Universities) partners (University of Twente, University of Stavenger, Tampere University, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Hamburg University of Technology) worked animately to the challenge Desing Your Future: Engaging Communities with Synthetic Biology through Games. The challenge was organized in collaboration with MUSE, the science museum of Trento,in the context of the European project ACDC – Artificial Cells with Distributed Cores, a Horizon 2020.

5 teams diverse in terms of gender, discipline, cultural background, and nationality worked intensively in order to create an effective game able to engage people and inform them about the amazing applications of synthetic biology.  

Synthetic biology is the engineering of biology: the synthesis of complex systems, biologically inspired or based, which display functions that do not exist in nature.
Thus, synthetic biology has the potential to bring about epochal changes in medicine, agriculture, industry, ethics. 

It is crucial to engage not just practitioners and politicians, but the whole society in the debate about how best to guide this research field in a safe and socially useful direction. Gamification is one of the strategies to engage communities and people in science projects. 

Team 3 won the challenge with the game “U-Plex: Redesigning organisms to explore the wonders synthetic biology brings!” The game aims at Redesignings organisms through a puzzle and creating a digital experience through the mobile app. Families with kids of 6+ years of age.

Team 3 was formed by Alexandros Zafranas, Rosy Leilou Cross, Simone Luiten, (UniTrento), Tanapaksorn Vipavin (Tampere University), and Micaela Carbone (graduated in UniTrento). They will have the chance to present their game to Play Festival in Modena in 2023, the biggest fair in game in Italy.

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