Team:XJTU-China/Public Engagement

Public Engagement

Beyond the lab program, iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) is a synthetic biology competition dedicated to spread all around the world creativity and engineering possibilities that biology can offer. Education and public engagement embodies this policy and encourages us to share knowledge amongst people. To achieve this goal, scientific education and participation are the best ways to raise people's awareness and make the public approach to sciences. That is what we tried to accomplish through different science popularization activities and contributions.

Laboratory Open Day: Bacterial Painting

School of Life Science and Technology, Xi'an Jiaotong University

For our project we launched a science camp on synthetic biology. One of the most interesting activities was Bacterial Painting. We used solid-state medium as the "paper" to paint on, using heat-activated, IPTG-activated expression of RFP, GFP, and BFP as luminescent proteins. The school professors were invited to lecture on aseptic handling of microbes before the event began. In this way, we have shown the infinite possibilities and fun of IGEM competition and synthetic biology to the students in the lower grades. It allowed them to communicate and ask questions in biology and jobs. We also initiated remote interactions with TUST's IGEMers to facilitate communications between teams.

Teaching in Mawu Primary School

Mawu Primary School, Chang'an District, Xi'an

To make children familiar with the field of synthetic biology, we volunteered to go to Mawu primary school for a simple tutorial. Bacteria model were drawn to let them understand that small bacteria cells are perfect micro factories for a variety of tasks. We did successfully achieve our goal by involving students actively to participate in our tutorial. We taught them some biological basics and our mind is expanded by bringing in new ideas from the students. The road in IGEM will definitely go wider and wider.

We collected a total of 1121 questionnaires. Diabetes is becoming quite commonly in young people, they are more adaptable to online questionnaires, so most of the people we surveyed are young people. Older people's knowledge of diabetes and its prevention are mostly derived from related young people. The survey of mostly young people will thus not affect the accuracy of our findings.

we found from the survey that people shop subjectively without choosing sweeteners, and sugary food with limited energy is very popular. Although D-psicose is a kind of natural sugar, there were less people knowing it. D-psicose is a natural sugar with a sweetness of 70%-80% to that of sucrose but very low in energy, which is good to diabetes. So, whether people will try D-psicose when adding it to the food, more than half of the interviewees chose to give it a try. We believe that the outlook for D-psicose in food will be very promising.

Our Wechat

Since the beginning of the IGEM competition, we have realized that many people may not be very familiar with the competition and the field of synthetic biology. So, the IGEM WeChat public account of Xi'an Jiaotong University was created to meet this end. We try to use simple and relevant knowledge to solve problems in life. In our WeChat public account, we not only introduce and promote the IGEM competition concept and our project, we also regularly post scientific articles in synthetic biology to gradually walk the public into life sciences.At present we have a total of 20 tweets, 171 followers, the highest click rate 304, total clicks 2526, average hits 126.

We respond to questions and comments in a timely manner in the public account. It has proven that this manner brings the public closer to science. This fits well with the IGEM concept of combining with public and practical issues.

In addition, we have email and twitter account to communicate with other schools. For example, we emailed the paris-evry 2017 team with our help in experimental design.

Our project is based on a directed evolution in D-psicose synthesis pathway. Compared to traditional chemical and biosynthesis methods, our method has the advantages of high yield, low energy consumption and low carbon emissions. By introducing the synthetic ideas of our projects, we fully demonstrated the superiority of our projects and the art of synthetic biology. . Eventually, we got the Excellence Award in the competition of energy conservation and emission reduction.

Visiting the Jinqiu Nursing Home and Community

To make elderly people understand and benefit from our IGEM project, we visited Xi'an Jinqiu Nursing Home to explain them what a scientific and reasonable dieting is. We not only offered the warm companionship, but also helped them with a deeper understanding of the scientific and rational planning and eating life style. They might not able to understand the competition in the field of synthetic biology, but they could benefit from it. Our visit can solve some of the problems they are facing every day. From this perspective, our activities like this kind are even more important and meaningful.

Brochure about Scientific Diet

D-psicose is low in calorie, so its blood sugar lowering function is very meaningful. Diabetes has a high incidence among middle-aged and older people, so a small handbook was designed and printed out by our team. Here, ways for a scientific and healthy diet and precautions for diabetes are described in detail. The distribution of the manual gives people a better understanding of the importance of life sciences. The IGEM competition and our projects are far-reaching. We walked into the nursing home and brought elderly with concept of healthy living and dieting. We showed them our caring and received many expectations from them to our project. Our activities as such are meaningful, coming not only from the practical handbook, but also from the power of cutting-edge technology.

Public participation is very important given that the iGEM competition is a competition that was born to solve practical problems. We actively joined various communities to involve the public into our project. Social media like Wechat public account, Twitter, and public mailbox are constantly used to communicate with the public and other teams. We also conducted questionnaires for online and offline surveys. In addition, social practice of IGEM competition is including offering lectures on synthetic biology, visiting nursing homes, and handing out health manuals.