Team:NCTU Formosa/Public Engagement

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NCTU Annual Biotechnology Fair

     At this year’s biotechnology fair in NCTU, we presented our project to future NCTU biotechnology majors to get them interested in synthetic biology. Every year, the event is held a few months before school starts as a way to give incoming students a glimpse at the many different paths available in the field. Of course, synthetic biology is all about collaboration between different fields, and all of our non-biology major teammates shared how other fields, such as nanotechnology and engineering, could work together with biology to achieve great things.

Figure 1: The 2018 NCTU Biotechnology Fair

High School iGEM Introduction

     National Luodong High School visited us over the summer to learn more about the iGEM competition. To start, we introduced the field of synthetic biology. We then presented some of NCTU_Formosa’s previous projects, such as Pantide and Parabase. The students left with a better understanding of what goes on in the field of synthetic biology as well as the competition.

Figure 2: The group photo with National Luodong High School

High School Workshop

     Over the summer our team hosted a week-long workshop for National Taichung First Senior High School students. The workshop covered all the skills required to produce a successful iGEM project. Students were first introduced to the fundamentals of synthetic biology before getting hands-on practice by transforming GFP into E.coli. Finally, they learned how to properly research science topics by referencing published papers and visiting sites such as PubMed. At the end of the workshop, the students combined everything they’d learned into a presentation of a project that they brainstormed from beginning to end. The workshop seemed to pique an interest in synthetic biology in many of the students, and we sincerely hope they decide to continue pursuing this passion.

Figure 3: Photo with students from National Taichung First Senior High School

60th NCTU Campus Fair

     During the school year our team participated in our school’s annual club fair. Our goal was to teach more people about synthetic biology and the iGEM competition, as well as earn some money to spend towards our project. We sold popsicles and explained several previous NCTU projects to any willing listeners. By the end we managed to recruit a few members for next years team while netting a profit. It was quite a successful day!

Figure 4: The school year, our school’s annual club fair

Central China Conference

     In mid-July, our team visited Wuhan, China to participate in the 2018 Central China Regional Exchange iGEM Conference, which was held by HUST, to share our project with other teams. This year, five teams came together to discuss and exchange ideas. We presented our project ideas and the audience gave us some great feedback. During the question and answer section we were asked about some topics that we hadn’t considered, such as the cost of our bacteriocin production. Additionally, we saw some interesting topics presented by other teams, and also made some great friends along the way. Overall this event really helped us prepare a more well-rounded project!

Figure 5: The group photo at HUST

Conference in NCTU

     Towards the end of July we co-hosted a small iGEM meetup with Mingdao High School. Along with National Tsing Hua University, all three teams presented their projects. This was our second opportunity to share our ideas with other iGEM teams and receive criticism. The improvements we’d made after our first meetup in Wuhan made our project more understandable this time; of course, we were asked new questions that we’d yet to consider, such as how long our proteins would last in the environment. We found that the smaller scale of this meetup allowed for longer and more intimate discussions and really helped us identify some issues with our project. We were very lucky that Mingdao approached us with this amazing chance at improvement, and hope the other two schools benefitted as much as we did!

Figure 6: The group photo with Mingdao High School and NTHU_Formosa iGEM teams

6th Asia-Pacific iGEM Conference

     This summer, NCTU_Formosa participated in the 6th annual Asia Pacific iGEM conference held at Chung Hsing University in Taichung. Over twenty other teams attended the event, and each team took the opportunity to share their projects. We received a lot of constructive criticism from not only other students but teachers and advisors as well. From this, we were able to improve both our content as well as our presentation style. Additionally, we bonded with many other teams and schools and made long lasting friendships.

Figure 7: The 6th annual Asia Pacific iGEM conference group photo at Chung Hsing University

Phone Meetup (Abu Dhabi)

     During the spring our team called Abu Dhabi over Skype to discuss both teams' projects. We explained our plan to control microbiota in soil, and Abu Dhabi shared their goals of making an incredible sensor. It was a great opportunity to practice expressing our ideas to others, and both teams learned more about both projects.

Figure 8: The Skype chat with Abu Dhabi