What? Open drug discovery at a summer camp for children?
During the summer holidays I gave a presentation with the title “Open Drug Discovery” at the Gifted Children summer camp 2016. The presentation covered drug discovery and open innovation in drug discovery research, with a focus on what possibilities amateurs have to contribute.
Gifted Children is an association for gifted children and their parents. Gifted children advocates a better understanding and knowledge of gifted children, and defines 5 % of the population as gifted. In Denmark this corresponds to about 35,000 school children and 10,000 children in kindergarten. However, schools and kindergartens are not always able to provide the children with the necessary offers for them to thrive and develop optimally. Thus Gifted Children makes activities for the children and give the parents a network with other parents to gifted children. Read more about the work of the non-profit association at the homepage. www.giftedchildren.dk
The summer camp is the major yearly event covering a week filled with activities, workshops, playing and socializing, and I wanted to give my contribution for making this event interesting for the children (and possibly their parents).
It was a challenge to make a presentation for an audience which comes with very diverse educational levels and insight into chemistry and biology. To measure and evaluate if I got the level right, I made a questionnaire to get feedback for the presentation. The presentation was attended both by some of the older children and some of their parents, and I below I summarize the analysis.
Overall the presentation was well received, which match my experience at the session with oral feedback and questions. In the questionarie it got a score of 4.3 out of 5 (best) for being interesting and the same score for being educational. Respondents overall found the level of difficulty adequate (4.2), with a few marking it a bit too difficult. Interestingly, it was not the educational level and knowledge within chemistry and biology that corresponded to respondents finding it a bit on the difficult side, maybe because persons with insight into the subject also had different expectations to the presentation? I interpret it as my finest success to see that the children found the level adequate to only slightly to difficult 🙂 I believe learning is greatest when the difficulty is just above current level and one must make an effort to understand and learn, although I might simplify the presentation a bit for next time.
Den som kun tar spøg for spøg
og alvor kun alvorligt,
Han og hun har faktisk fattet
begge dele dårligt.*
Piet Hein (Danish architect and multi genius).
The last question was about the interest for a Foldit workshop. Foldit is a game which strikes a delicate balance between the serious and the playful, by letting players compete at making well folded proteins of scientific interest (web page fold.it). The game is well suited for teaching and educational use and will likely also be used at a workshop at next years Gifted Children summer camp, as all children expressed an interest in a workshop in the game! Response amongst the adults was more mixed with a score of 2.3 out of 5 (Interested). Even though the game is purposely designed to be able to play it without a prior understanding of structural biology, It would be a great platform to explain a bit about amino acids and their properties as well as talk about proteins and protein structures.
*) Lose translation of the poem above:
Those who only takes joke jest
and seriousness only seriously,
he and she have actually grasped
both of them very badly.
Please suggest better translations if you can in the comments below!