Team:TJU China/Public Engagement

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The Crabapple Blossom Festival
TJU’s Annual Crabapple Blossom Festival is a great activity, almost one hundred thousand citizens in Tianjin gather together in TJU to enjoy the beautiful flower and various association activities, including many innovative research productions. This year, we seized this opportunity and showed interesting biology to many visitors, mostly young persons, and children. What’s more, it was impressing that about ten percent of the visitors paid attention to our activities, which was an excellent chance for us to spread the theory of synthetic biology to the society.
Figure 9. IGEM and the magic scissor.
Figure 10. People participate in our activities.
We showed interesting short videos about CRISPR to the visitors, which briefly illustrate the theory of synthetic biology, especially the technology of CRISPR. We use such an approach to attract more visitors to gather around us. In this case, an increasing number of citizens were standing there so that we can provide biologic knowledge to more people around us, and we believe that more visitors will be interested in synthetic biology.
Figure 11. Videos about CRISPR-Cas system.
We provide some beautiful pictures of proteins and cells for children to color in. The purpose of this activity was to draw children and adolescents’ attention to involve in the progress of learning structures of all varieties of simple biologic molecular, including protein Cas9, Cpf1, Cas13a, and some RNA figures. Maybe these children didn’t really understand what it was, however, this activity indeed developed their interests in synthetic biology. Some visitors even asked us for further knowledge of our project.
Figure 12. Children drawing structures of proteins and RNA figures.
We invent a small game named ‘ball collision’, which represents base pairing. Stringing up balls of four different colors, representing four bases, we want the participants to find the string up the balls with another thread to make them a pair, which represents the principle of complementary base pairing. We believe this could be an excellent way of teaching children biologic knowledge. Furthermore, we made some attractive postcards as well as bookmarks as the award, in case certain visitors want to gain more details about synthetic biology in our project or provide particular information about the assignment.
Figure 13. Citizens of different ages took part in the "ball collision" activity.
The purpose of these activities is to spread basic gene knowledge in an accessible and easy-to-understand way. Furthermore, the unique festival is a stage for us to communicate with society, including all kinds of citizens. With no disappointment, the professional in biology gave us much help, told us about their experience in labs which wouldn’t be found in books. Our work turned out to be a great success. Many visitors showed great interest in the cartoon about CRISPR. The games attract many children to participate in activities and learn knowledge at the same time. After all, developing children’s interests is more significant than dumping education. We hope to provide opportunities to citizens and also want to gain help through this grand activity.
First-year students in Lab
When the freshmen finished their first month in college, we invited them into our lab. A teacher in our lab communicated with them about synthetic biology, including the knowledge hierarchy, scientific directions, and future employment. We hope they can better understand what they are going to be educated for and what they want to learn. What’s more, we also provided them with opportunities to use some simple experimental apparatus and hope to give them more chances to get in touch with experiments, which is useful for their future study.
Figure 14. Introduce synthetic biology and lab apparatus to freshmen.