The Language of Life: A Game-Based Workshop for Introducing Protein Biosynthesis


  • Fabio Chiarello CNR-IFN
  • Daniela Fioretti CNR-IFT
  • Tiziano Antognozzi IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca, Italy
  • Francesca Romana Bertani CNR-IFN, Italy
  • Ennio Bilancini IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca, Italy
  • Matteo Bisanti University of Florence, Italy
  • Leonardo Boncinelli University of Florence, Italy
  • Luca Businaro CNR-IFN
  • Roberto Di Paolo IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca, Italy
  • Annamaria Gerardino CNR-IFN
  • Sandra Iurescia CNR-IFT



Game-based learning, genetic code, DNA, mRNA, protein, transcription, translation, protein biosynthesis


Protein biosynthesis is a complex process that involves the transcription of DNA into mRNA and the subsequent translation of mRNA into proteins according to the genetic code. To introduce this fundamental process to a broad audience, we developed "The Language of Life", a game-based workshop that was presented at the Genoa Science Festival 2022, the largest science communication event in Italy. The game-based workshop employed jigsaw puzzle-like elements to represent DNA, mRNA, and aminoacyl transfer RNAs, enabling participants to pair them through codon combinations. The game-based workshop lasted for an hour and the framing was a "special mission" inside a cell. It consisted of an initial training phase that incorporated videos, models, and explanations, followed by practical "missions'' in which participants reproduce transcription and translation mechanisms by moving inside the cell and using the provided materials. The workshop was attended by 1,505 participants, primarily students aged 6-18, and received positive feedback. In this paper, we present our experience conducting this workshop and discuss its impact and potential for future use.