Animated video to teach young about genomics

A plucky Tui, a robotic assistant and an elderly Maori scientist are the stars of a new animated video that aims to educate young people about the role of genomic sequencing in the management of Covid-19.

The short video was created by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) and the University of Otago, in partnership with Maui Studios Aotearoa, using funding provided under the Covid-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund.

ESR genomics lead Joep de Ligt said the pandemic had pushed genomic sequencing firmly into the public domain.

University of Otago virologist Dr Jemma Geoghegan
University of Otago virologist Dr Jemma Geoghegan
It had also provided an opportunity to show people the power and speed of these technologies, and give them "a look under the hood" of the science behind the work.

"The animation was designed to be relevant for school-age students in particular, with the aim of incorporating Te Ao Maori views and concepts alongside the science."

University of Otago virologist Dr Jemma Geoghegan said the animation was able to engage young people in learning about genomic sequencing without the use of a standard textbook.

Intrigued by science and technology, Ruia goes on an educational journey to learn about the role...
Intrigued by science and technology, Ruia goes on an educational journey to learn about the role of genomic sequencing in the management of Covid-19 in a new animated video for children. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

In the video, Koro (an elderly Maori scientist), Tui (a wise friend of Koro) and Piki (a robotic assistant), share information with Koro’s granddaughter Ruia — a young Maori girl intrigued by science and technology, but tired of all the talk about Covid-19.

"Many young people are really interested in science and want to understand complex issues like the Covid-19 virus," Dr Geoghegan said.

"The animation was a genuine collaboration between scientists, animators and tamariki [children]."

University of Otago quantitative genetics Associate Professor Dr Phil Wilcox.
University of Otago quantitative genetics Associate Professor Dr Phil Wilcox.
Otago quantitative genetics Associate Professor Dr Phil Wilcox said it was critical to present science-based learning in a way that also connected with Maori.

"Unpacking important science-based activities in a manner more relatable to Maori communities is extremely important, not only for improving understanding, but also to encourage tauira [pupils] and pakeke [seniors] to think about how gene technologies might be used to benefit our people.

"These resources also support Maori-specific education initiatives regarding genetics and gene technologies, such as the Summer Internship of Indigenous Peoples in Genomics Aotearoa and the University of Otago’s Science Wananga genetics modules.

"Increasingly, Maori are engaging with gene technology-based research and application in both health and primary sectors, so such a resource serves to support that trend."

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

 

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