Our plan is to use Virtual Reality to explore molecules. We have already done some work on this, stemming from the 2016 NRP-UEA iGEM project – some details are here:
More recently we have developed the VR activity to be more interactive and to focus on exploring the structure of molecules. Up to now we have stayed with proteins, but my idea for the synthetic biology aspect of OpenPlant would be to extend the idea to DNA. As we develop this activity we are keeping in mind 2 distinct approaches for different audiences:
- festivals and events with young children: the VR activity can work well at an entertainment level, and this could be enhanced by incorporating some sort of game element (an idea that comes to my mind is that the players could be looking for some specific bases or mutations, depending on what we feel able to explain)
- Open Days and events with older children/adults: the VR activity can work well for highlighting specific points about molecular structure and function
For the OpenPlant Fund, I think it would be possible to develop one of these approaches. We have the expertise and equipment to develop the VR side of the project, so I think we would be most interested to link up with people who have specific interests about DNA structure, or specific sequences within DNA. But we would also be happy to develop the project in different directions, if there are any good ideas out there.
If anyone wishes to find out more they can contact Richard Bowater at R.Bowater@uea.ac.uk