Team:BNDS CHINA/Public Engagement

Public Engagement

I. Public lecture

Establishing club is an efficient way to share the knowledge and find the people who have the same interest. This year, we continued the club we established last year, and held a synthetic biology lecture at school.

Our goal was to popularize the synthetic biology to the students in our school. Since lots of people had a misunderstanding towards synthetic biology, we really wanted to dispel it. Therefore, we designed an interesting lecture to achieve this goal. We deeply understood that lots of students in our campus didn’t have enough knowledge of biology and they would feel bored if we teach them for whole class. In order to avoid such situation, we made an adequate preparation. We divided our lecture into three parts. The first part was a brief introduction of synthetic biology. We made a short video to clarify what synthetic biology is and its applications in the real world. What's more, we also emphasized the core of synthetic biology: modularization and standardization.

By interacting with the students who came to the lecture, their views toward synthetic biology was gradually refreshed.

The second part was the introduction of a typical genetic engineering process and some basic information of genetic biology, including DNA structure, translation, PCR, etc. We wanted our club members to understand how the basics of biology can be used in synthetic biology.

Finally, since putting the knowledge into practice was really important, we designed a DNA extraction experiment. We used salts and detergent to break the cell membranes of bananas. Then, to increase the surface area of cells, we mashed the banana. We used a strainer to filter the banana puree and gained the solution contained DNA. Finally, by adding up alcohol, the DNA appeared at the bottom of the cup. The process of extraction is known as ethanol precipitation. The students enjoyed the experiment a lot and they gained interest in synthetic biology as well as iGEM competition.

III. Red Window Expo

The Red Window Expo is our school’s traditional activity. At the expo, students get an opportunity to show their versatile talents and sell their self-developed products. Moreover, student organizations can display their marvelous ideas and propagate their projects in the expo. This activity aims to nurture students’ individuality, inspire creativity, facilitate the interaction between different grades and enrich the campus culture.

It was a tradition for our team to promote our project in the Red Window Expo. To draw students attention while incorporating the idea of synthetic biology into the activity, our team ingeniously designed a series of captivating and yet educative activities to promote synthetic biology and our project on campus. We made various types of bookmarks with delicate illustrations and synthetic biology definitions on them. We also made a huge amount of palatable fortune cookies which contain a variety of biology questions. And only students who correctly answered the questions had access to the “Wheel of Fortune” and the opportunity to win special gifts. Besides, while organizing the activities, our teammates introduced our project and the knowledge of synthetic biology to the participants.

Our project draw tens of attention in the expo and was a huge success. A bountiful amount of students visit our stall and engaged in the colorful activities about synthetic biology. Students dabbled in the field of genetic engineering and appreciated the wisdom of biology with the lead of these activities. The expo also helped us to popularize iGEM in our school. Some students even expressed keen interest in taking part in the competition next year. Meanwhile, the biology teachers in our school provided us with a variety of fundamental suggestions such as the design of the experiment and the application of our genetically engineered machine, which are stepping stones to our final project.

Feelings from team members:

During the Red Window Expo, we sale our DIY book marks containing the knowledge about organelle and cookies on the during the red window expo. All the teachers and students are in a exiting and enjoyable atmosphere. I felt so satisfied when I was watching our customers who tried hard to answer the questions we made, bought our bookmarks, and ate the cookies. It was a fantastic experience.

- By Levant Yan

This was my first time to be fully engaged in the Red Window Expo. I was in charge of designing, ordering, and selling fortune cookies. I was amazed by students' passion in biology and was happy to see that students managed to answer most of our questions about genetic engineering. I hope that more and more students will be interested in joining BNDS iGEM team next year!

- By Mackie Zhou