The first questionnaire
In the early stage of our project, we conducted an online questionnaire survey to preliminary understand people's attitudes towards the GM products of the project.
After the first survey, we found that people still have a prejudice against GM food. However, the response of the questionnaire was not as positive as we had expected.
Based on the results of the survey responses of the public's attitudes towards GM products, we held an emergency meeting twice, by all accounts, for different age paragraph the audience of different level biology popularization is the indispensable link, we hope that by the popularity of different ways of education to change the public perception of genetically modified and even synthetic biology products, and further shape our Human Practice approach through social feedback.
Because of the containment of COVID-19, we can't teach on a large scale. Finally, the activity was chosen to be held in a school. Although the event was very successful, one minor incident occurred during this period: due to typhoon weather, the materials for the experimental plan could not be delivered on time. In order to carry out the activity normally, we first arranged for Morris to give the lecture that we prepared, several other members of the team prepared materials urgently. Fortunately, all our problems were solved one by one.
Presentation by Morris
《Editing the Future》
Morris provides an overview of synthetic biology, starting with the discovery of DNA structure, by introducing some of the most important techniques in synthetic biology, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Golden Gate Assembly, Gibson Assembly, and Biobrick.
Morris giving a lecture.
The assembly method is a key point，including Golden Gate，Gibson assembly, enzyme cut and enzyme linkage. We also describe the advantages and disadvantages of these assembly methods, among them, Golden Gate is more popular with the public than other methods because of its convenience.
Morris talking about Golden Gate Assembly
Finally, we did a pitch for IGEM and played our promo video. They were extremely interested in this competition. Some students who are committed to this program in the future, which is one of the most meaningful things for us.
The second part of our public education, Bear led students to experiment with banana DNA extraction.
1. Get a slice of banana, put into the plastic bag and crush it.
2. Pour in same volume of cleanser essence, mix them up.
3. Put the bag into hot water and wait for 10 min
4. Get some cloth and put into the 50ml centrifuge tube
5. Take out the bag and put the paste into the cloth
6. Add same volume of 75% alcohol and wait for the DNA to precipitate
7. Use tools to obtain/ Observe DNA
More details of this presentation, please click here：
PPT of Public Education
Build the DNA Structure
The last part of the activity was to build the structure of DNA with clay. The students thought this teaching method was novel and gave us positive feedback.
DNA structure represented by soft clay
As one of the most significant parts in this Public Education, we actually wanted to have more profound discussion with these students with strong curiosity in biology, and taught them more advanced, further information beyond the coursebook. We had collected relatively adequate feedbacks from them. Some students said that was the first time they knew synthetic biology, and detailed steps of how the entire DNA assembly process happened, and the principle of transgenic products. Also, they all proactively provided their ideas related to transgenic products, and,we also noticed that, the majority of them did not relatively objective attitudes towards synthetic biology and transgenic techniques, before this public education activity. Hence, that activites were helpful for them, and considerabley erase their prejudice and revulsion, which were caused by their fear of the unknown synthetic biology.
All in all, the event was successfully completed! Every member and student got a good harvest.
After the activity, we wanted to get a response from a student and a biology teacher. To our surprise, many of them responded positively：
Biology DNA Workshop
“I love biology but I keep failing” used to be my high school Biology learning state of mind. So, when Morris invited me to check on their IGEM workshop of extracting banana DNA without taking a test, I jumped on it.
Admittedly, I enjoyed the privilege of attending a student workshop as a teacher — every Biology expert there was willingly to help me out. Having closely followed the instructions, I was able to present an A* DNA extract ;).
As an outsider to Biology, I appreciated that students chose simple vocabulary and used visuals to illustrate complicated concepts. Thanks to their clear and well-organized presentation, I decided to show off my newly learned DNA term “Biobrick” to my fellow English teachers.
If you are interested in Biology, please do make sure to join this club or maybe just attend their workshops (like me). You’ll be able to test your current knowledge and use the skills you’ve learned in class.
Come and have fun!
PS - The professional assistance I received from Biology teacher George and Lucia as well as other club members played a crucial role in my successful DNA extract experience.
PPS - By “have fun” I mean “learn something new” :)
I had heard the IGEM activity from my classmates, which was supposed to extract DNA from bananas, an experiment I had never done before. After class my friend Wendy took me with her right after school.
At the beginning, my classmate Morris gave a speech. He popularized a lot of new knowledge that could not be learned in textbooks with easy-to-understand language, which benefited me a lot and made me feel that biology was not as difficult as I thought. Now, my friends and I are most looking forward to the experiment begins! At the beginning, I was a little nervous, afraid of making mistakes or failing the experiment. IGEMer Bear’s guidance and demonstration made me feel relaxed during the whole experiment. Finally, my experiment was successful, which made me feel a great sense of achievement! I hope this kind of activities can be held more often to make the boring campus life more interesting.
Of course, I would go to any biology activity at school because I love biology! I was so excited to hear about IGEM on the school announcer that I rushed to the lab after school.
IGEMer are very amiable and harmonious with each other, getting along with them is not awkward at all! First of all, Morris's speech was very specific and easy to understand, and even the little white creature could understand it well. The next step I look forward to is the actual operation step is simple and easy to operate. My experiment was very successful and I saw a white floc-that is DNA!
Through this activity, I have gained more understanding of modern synthetic biology, and I will learn related majors in the future, hoping to have more cooperation with IGEMer.
The public Education activity held by IGEM club was very interesting. As a student who loves natural science and has confirmed the direction of physics application, I felt deeply in this biology popular science activity, and learned a lot of interesting but uninvolved knowledge, such as how to extract DNA, various reaction mechanisms of DNA, and relevant knowledge of the 2020 Nobel Prize CRISPR technology. Although my experiment was not very successful, it left a deep impression on me, a student who seldom walks into a biology laboratory. At the same time, I have developed great interest in IGEM project, and I feel regretfully that I did not have the opportunity to join in since I was in AS grade. I hope I can attend IGEM again in the future.
The whole activity was organized in an orderly manner, and was very clear. The students who participated in the activity had a very good experience. Of course, there are still some problems, such as the time arrangement can be optimized. In addition, is there a better way to present the final results? Is there a more convenient and clear way to see it?
As a biology teacher, carry out an experiment always makes me headache; the mainly reason is the material preparation. However, through this activity, I think the students has the ability to organize an experiment, I feel very proud of them.
Due to the pandemic of COVID-19, we have very little access to investigate the general public offline, even we did a little survey about the random pedestrians, our sample frame was way too small. Instead of giving up social research, we had done two online investigations, both of them gained large samples.
In the preliminary survey, most people's attitudes towards GMOs/products/foods were more negative, with an average acceptance of only 41%.
Due to the primary investigation’s failure, and after getting an education from experts and industrial factors, we decided to put on our own education to our main concern: the elderly.
Nowadays there is a tendency to have memory loss in older adults, and since our original intention was to help the elders with fading memory, we hope that our project, Memory Bread, will more or less help them slow down the symptoms of cognitive impairment and improve cognitive ability and memory. After all, cognitive disorders are generally different amounts of different degrees of cognitive domain impairment, difficult to recover, memory impairment is a medium nuclear symptom, is bound to appear and irreversible, but can be improved and delayed by a variety of non-drug therapies.
We aimed to look for the group of old people that might be needing our product, so we visited CHINA MERCHANTS GUANYI HEALTH CARE’s cognitive impairment special area.
They have combined the strengths of Chinese and Western medicine, along with the international professional elderly care experience, introduced advanced tranquility treatment concepts and technologies, through a multidisciplinary team (doctors, nurses, social workers, rehabilitation practitioners, psychological counselors, etc.) to provide professional assistance to the elderly and their families during the tranquility treatment period.
We talked to the old people there, as well as consulting with the managers and experts there. Nursing homes themselves do not provide additional, unofficial (non-drug) health care products for the elderly, only medicines or even health products that are provided by the elder's family members and prove to be harmless to the body.
Our visit to CHINA MERCHANTS GUANYI HEALTH CARE
We mentioned our project and the function of flavanols, also the explanations of the misunderstanding of genetically modified products. Then they understand that GM-related organisms and their products are not all harmful to the human body.
Firstly, we simply introduced our project-Memory Bread-using GM yeast to produce Catechin from L-Tyrosine, with intermediate Naringenin. Both products are proven to be able to effectively improve cognitive ability and memory.
Then, our interviewer explained the misunderstanding of transgenic technology. First of all, whether people accept or oppose GM, this modern biotechnology has been widely used in all areas of life. All the scientific evidence shows that GM methods for specific crop improvements have no negative impact on humans or animals. Genetic modification does not change the safety of food. In the 18 years since GMed crops were grown commercially, billions of people and hundreds of billions of livestock have long consumed GM crops, and no GM foods have been found to cause disease or other problems. In the medical field, most of the insulin, interferon, and vaccines are produced by genetically modified technology; in the microbial food industry, as well as some enzymes used in cosmetology. In fact, many of the world's drugs, such as beer, bread, cheese, and insulin, are produced using genetically modified organisms, and so far, no confirmed cases of GM technology being unsafe for human health, livestock, and the ecological environment have been found. There is no material difference between food from GMOs and foods from other biological sources, and it makes no sense to deviate from facts and scientific evidence to argue about the safety of GM crops.
Also, genetically modified crops can actually enhance food safety, reduced the impact of agriculture on the environment, and ensure the sustainable development of agriculture. Genetically modified crops can increase yields and have great potential to increase production, thus effectively ensuring food security. The application of genetically modified crops has greatly reduced the use of pesticides, effectively protected biodiversity, reduced the pressure on the use of cultivated land, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and brought significant ecological and environmental benefits.
At the same time, we started our online public education, both at our Bilibili UID1038254682, and Sinaweibo account: AISSUunion, publicizing IGEM as well as synthetic biology. We aim to eliminate people's prejudice against genetic modification, and let them know the advantages of genetic engineering, and let them know more about synthetic biology, and to let go of their worries and fears.
=====Investigation of CHINA MERCHANTS GUANYI HEALTH CARE================
During the interview time, most medical workers were in holiday, and in order to know further situations about the seniors’ health level, we kept contacting with their private doctor. Especially about their daily diet.
They gave us more information about the dementia, as a common problem due to the seniors get older, so in their daily diet, the fresher, lighter Mediterranean diet has become the main strain.
What we did expect is the fact that the project Memory Bread, in their opinions, could be largely helpful for those elder responses. If the product could be successfully passing the quality test. I put forward explicitly that it would have great perspective in the market. Their statements greatly encouraged us!
The second questionnaire
After the education, we designed and launched our latter survey, and the result was encouraging. The response to the second questionnaire was very optimistic. People's attitudes towards genetically modified technologies and products have changed compared with the previous ones, with the average acceptance of GM-related products rate from 41% to 57% after public education. We'd love to, and we're glad, that although it's only changed a little bit of the perception of a small group of people, being able to make a change has been a big step forward for us.