Date of this Version
World of Viruses (2011) pp. 25-28
Science education is developing new and innovative means of communication that compete directly with global media to reach the ‘YouTube Generation’. The truly interdisciplinary team of the SEPA-funded World of Viruses project is discovering how best to spread the word
“WE LIVE,” the project’s homepage announces, “in a world of viruses.” Indeed, viruses are the world’s most abundant biological organisms. While they can be deadly, they provide important tools for developing treatments and building nanotechnology. So the challenge for World of Viruses is to engage the public with the ubiquitous yet mysterious virus, taking them from confusion and misconception to curiosity and inquiry.
As Project Director Dr Judy Diamond explains, there was a strong rationale for focusing on this subject: “The project focuses on virology because it is relevant to people’s health and wellbeing. Knowing something about viruses can help make people’s lives better. And this is particularly true for teenagers”. The project started in 2007, through a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center for Research Resources at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, with the aim of educating people about virology through public radio programmes, comics, interactive apps, and curriculum resources.