Team:SDSZ China/sm

iGem SDSZ_China 2018

Education and Public engagement

Education Engagement

Beijing No.2 Primary School


We are a team that wants to change the world, and it was necessary to expand our influence. We know how small a team of 15 people is on a planet of 7.4 billion people and how difficult it is to reach our goals. Even so, we are still willing to believe in the power of dreams and cohesion. Since dreams bring us together, it also can make our team move towards the future. But, when a student surprising about the relationship between environmental issues and bioengineering, we realized that even the students around us knew too little about the thing what we wanted to do. Therefore, we clearly understand that what we have to do is to influence the people around us now.
Since the students in our school are the people who has the closest relationship with us, we start from our school. After winning the opportunity to speak at the school's meeting, we have compiled a lot of information, including the introduction of our project, the goals of our team, the status of the development of bioengineering, etc., in order to make the students clearly understand the concept and significance of bioengineering. No one can predict the future and our classmates will be in all walks of life. They may be architects, civil servants, or teachers. And most of them may not access the field of bioengineering in their life. So what is the meaning of doing all these things? In my opinion, the answer is to show how we understand what is “life”. And this is one thing-no matter what the student does in the future-that everyone needs to explore finally. We believe that human beings existed because they were given life, and they will eventually use lives to survive in the future. As the result, we think that making students understand bioengineering is very important.
But this is not enough. After some discussion, we decide to go to primary school to promote our project. Elementary school is a stage of interest in all kinds of new things. Although I can not remember the specific scene, I know clearly that my interest in bioengineering began eight years ago because of the influence of my primary school teacher, the person who appreciates bioengineering. But unlike high school students, it is difficult to prepare a speech for a primary school student. We need to consider how to raise the interest of children and how to make them understand. We have prepared a large number of lobster specimens and some simulation models in advance, so that the students can observe, and they will curious: how do we could use the shrimp shells? We also use some common life phenomena to explain some proper nouns, such as using the white marks left on the inside of the flower pot to explain the salinization of the land. Our purpose is not only to tell them the advantages of bioengineering. We hope that we can leave an impression in their minds, that one way of thinking is that even the waste that can be seen everywhere can become a chance to change the world. We also want to tell them that no matter how powerful a person is, he has the right to change. Primary school students represent a future farther than us, we can let our influence continue.
A small butterfly flapping its wings and damaging the air over a certain place may cause a storm in a distant place. The research we spend a lot of time on is to hope that we can find out that our efforts in the future are really saving others. We are still moving towards our dreams.

Thoughts/testimony from student

I often think about a question - how important is the insight to a child? It wasn't until I organized a trip to the Beijing No.2 experiment primary school to give a presentation about our iGEM project. I realized that a person’s vision during his or her childhood can affect his or her entire life.
When we entered a classroom of Grade 5 at Beijing No.2 experiment primary school, I found that many children were reading some popular science books about the universe and the nature around them. I realized that the book they have read are already far more complicated than other students at the same age with them. This will be much easier for me to talk about synthetic biology, I thought.
However, it turned out that the conversation was not easy at all. Their enthusiasm almost pushed me down. When I introduced them to the background knowledge of chitin, the students raised their hands and thought that I had raised one problem after another. One child said, “Why is the traditional process dealing with chitin leaving pollution? People are still willing to deal with it?” Another child asked me, “Since there is a environmental pollution, why not using landfill and wait for the degradation of nature?” I was surprised when I heard those questions, and it didn't feel like the questions could come out from the mouth of children at age 10. At the end of our speech, several children rushed over and asked about the connection between our subject and environmental protection, showing a strong curiosity. What surprised me the most is that some children even had the ability to make inferences based on the facts I offered. They took the initiative to think about the environmental protection documentary that they have seen on the Discovery Channel and asked me if our research could be extended to other areas of environmental protection. After the speech, I have been thinking about improvement of our experiment over and over again.
Now I understand that these children have educational resources far beyond the average level of China since childhood, and they have been protected by the education of their elders since childhood. This kind of education is not available to children who are poor and migrant, because most of their parents are junior high school graduates and have no education. This kind of vision will make outstanding students better and study hard, and students without this vision will tend to be ordinary. After a few years, most of the students in this elementary school will become China's elites. It is important that we give them inspirations by showing them what we are aiming for. With all these information and inspirations, they are surely going to be successful. I believe that the iGEM event encourages teams to go to primary schools and other places to promote projects is very important to drive their curiosity about scientific research because only when they have such an insight, will they be able to devote themselves to the research industry in the future, for China and the world. I also believe that under our leadership, more children will plant a seed of interest to the creatures when they are young, and grow up to make their own contributions to the society.

Entering the room full of curiosity, we, the SDSZ-IGEM members, were going to give a speech in Second Experimental Elementary School about our project, which in order to solve the pollutions during traditional method of disposing chitin.
Connecting the computer with the projector, I nervously pointed at a picture of crabs on the screen, and asked the children: “What is this”? To my surprise, they answer the question loudly : “Crabs”, without hesitation or bashfulness. In their eyes, I saw the interest to the biology knowledge in front of them. I changed to another question: “When you finish eating the meat, how would you dispose the shell”? They were amused, whispering with their deck mate. With the developing of the speech, the questions we asked them were more and more complex. However, they reflected to a insistence to listen to our speech. One striking data followed another shocked their heart and their soul. In their eyes, I saw the veneration and silence. As children in Beijing, they enjoy the inexhaustible electricity, water, and food. They are hardly aware of the severe environmental pollution in China: water pollution, earth pollution, air pollution, white pollution, and so on. When we were playing the documentary about China environmental pollution, they stared at the screen with meditation. From their facial expression, I could found that they were largely touched.
We also showed an equipment in our laboratory—pipettor, and taught them how to use it to transfer a certain amount of water from one beaker to another. They were cautious and hesitating, but when they used this tool skillfully, we organized a tiny competition. Many pupils showed a great curiosity toward bioengineering and molecular biology.
After the speech, many students shook hands with me with reverence, saying that they really admire our work to deal with the environmental pollution. I was also astonished either that I never anticipated that they would be so deep moved. Although it was a common speech, I though it is a good opportunity to smash a misconception that China have a bright future of environment that can be meet in the near future. Our work are still not enough. However, encouraging one more student to have the curiosity to focus on the environmental problem, China has one more chance to realize a dream that the people would no longer wear mask in the haze, and our children can enjoy a better environment than what we own now.