By Dr. Irene Drymiotou, University of Cyprus
As more germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them, we are faced with increased antimicrobial resistance (AMR): an issue that is not only considered today’s “silent pandemic” but also a “wicked problem”.
In Cyprus, our Open Science Community (OSC) is experimenting with different teaching methods to increase societal awareness about AMR, a topic of high social complexity and of difficult resolution. Many biological and social factors play a role in increasing AMR, such as the behaviour of bacteria, the overuse and overprescription of antibiotics by individuals, and decisions taken by governments and multinational corporations.
To explore the different facets of the topic and present them to the wider public, a group of five students from the Junior and Senior School in our OSC participated in the sCYence fair, the largest Science Festival in Cyprus. After being introduced to the topic and interacting with experts at the biobank.cy molecular medicine center last year, the students went through an internal competition and were selected by a jury of science teachers to participate in the fair. There, they presented their work in the form of a 3-minute role-play representing different stakeholders debating on the question: “Should we ban the use of antibiotics for the treatment of flu?”. They represented a doctor, a scientist, a policymaker, a farmer, and a patient. Each representative argued on the topic above presenting their claims, reasoning, and available evidence.
After the role-play, the students wrapped up with concluding remarks about the use of antibiotics and explained how they worked with their teachers, the biobank.cy experts and University of Cyprus researchers to develop their school projects on antimicrobial resistance (e.g., posters, modelling-based activities, role-play, flyers).
A total of 66 groups of students, aged 9 to 18, from 49 schools in Cyprus participated in the sCYence fair attended by the MULTIPLIERS students. The fair was the first of a series of upcoming activities where our students will act as “knowledge multipliers” to develop their science communication skills and pass on to society what they have learned on social-scientific dilemmas as part of the project.
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