Project Orientations for Host Sites

See the archived list of recorded project orientations and online workshops

Online project orientations for host site staff 

We recommend that all host sites have at least one staff member attend the Host Site Overview - Communicating Synthetic Biology webinar, and that all scientists join the online community called Trellis (more information below) and attend all three orientation webinars. Host site staff may participate in the orientation webinars alongside scientists and/or participate in the host site webinar that will enable organizers to provide additional orientation to their scientists or support them at the events.

Online project orientation for scientist volunteers

Scientists will appreciate the context for the project, become aware of the types of questions to expect from participants during activities, and the importance of bringing this topic to the public discussion. As we’ve recruited scientists, we’ve heard their excitement about networking with other scientists who care about this program too! Please encourage your scientists to take advantage of the project resources, orientation webinars and on-site orientations. Advertising language that will appeal to scientists is below.

What does the orientation entail?

We’re offering several orientation opportunities and resources to help prepare the scientists and volunteers facilitating hands-on activities at each Building with Biology event. This structure builds on the successful Building with Biology pilot orientation:   

  • Scientists and host site staff are invited to join an online community, called Trellis, that will connect them with peers across the Building with Biology network and provide informative materials about the project and public engagement. 
  • The Host Site Overview - Communicating Synthetic Biology onlinen workshop will familiarize host site organizers with the orientation materials.
  • Three webinars will offer background context and give scientist participants opportunities to practice public engagement basics, boosting their confidence before the events. 
  • On-site orientations at host sites, which can be offered before or on the day of your event, will review public engagement fundamentals and familiarize scientists with the hands-on activities. 

What is included in the webinars?

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) will hosted three webinars in spring 2016 that were recorded and are archived online.  The webinars will ground the Building with Biology hands-on activities in public engagement research and best practices, and prepare scientists to approach the on-site activities as conversations and opportunities to learn from visitors.

Webinar Schedule & Registration

Project orientation webinars are recorded and archived online.

Building with Biology: Host Site Overview - Communicating Synthetic Biology (for host site staff only) – Learn more about the science communication and public engagement fundamentals we will share with scientists and volunteers during our upcoming webinars 

Building with Biology: Public Engagement Fundamentals (for scientists)  Presented by AAAS - The Building with Biology project is an example of public engagement with science. Explore the value of communicating with the public. 

Building with Biology: All about Audiences (for scientists) – Presented by AAAS - Understanding your audience helps you communicate more effectively. Learn about Americans' perceptions of synthetic biology and consider the audiences you may be interacting with. 

Building with Biology: Communicating Synthetic Biology (for scientists) – Presented by AAAS – Practice speaking clearly and concisely about synthetic biology, with an emphasis on one’s own research.

What is included in the on-site orientation? 

The on-site orientation materials include a PowerPoint that is intended to be used for scientists and other volunteers at Building with Biology event orientations. This PowerPoint provides an overview of the project, some background on synthetic biology, some tips on having conversations with visitors and an overview of hands-on activities and logistics. There is also a planning guide that will provide guidance to host sites as they make plans for their Building with Biology events. Click here to view and download these materials

Offering orientation to your scientist volunteers


Advertising language for host sites

Note: this is suggested language to share with the scientists matched to your host site. Please feel free to adapt as appropriate for your site.

Sign up for the Building with Biology orientation! You’ll learn context for the project, become aware of the types of questions to expect from participants during hands-on activities, and understand more about the importance of bringing this topic of synthetic biology to the public discussion. Scientists who have completed orientation say they’re excited about networking with other scientists who care about this program too. Take advantage of this opportunity to improve your ability to connect with members of the public.

Join the online community!

More scientists are engaging public audiences and find that it benefits them personally and professionally. Scientists also enjoy connecting with other scientists who do the same. Scientists, host sites, volunteers, and project staff can connect with each other, share their experiences, and provide tips and feedback via the Building with Biology group on Trellis, a free online community for the scientific community.

Many scientists have already opted in to the Trellis community via their application. If any of your scientists, staff, or volunteers would like to join, please email a request to