Since participating in IGEM, we have gained a lot. From synthetic biology and IGEM, we learn different ways of thinking, learn how to observe the world, discover problems, and try to use our own abilities to improve them. We have been thinking about how to let more people know about synthetic biology and IGEM. That’s why we carried out a series of educational activities focusing on the compilation of synthetic biology learning manual and the design of educational packages.
In order to raise the public's awareness of cellular immunotherapy, we send out questionnaires to 300 people. The content covers the understanding of cellular immunotherapy, expected methods to learn cellular immunotherapy, acceptance, reasons and so on. It helps us to develop better publicity and education programs suitable for the public. Here are detailed survey results.
The participants of this questionnaire are mainly 18-25 years old and 41-60 years old. This is because the spread of the questionnaire is somehow within the team members’ social network.
The questionnaire shows
1.Many people don’t know what is cellular immunotherapy, so the popularization of it is very necessary.
2.Most of people are willing to learn about cellular immunotherapy, which has laid the foundation for our science communication.
3.Among the few people who are unwilling to learn about cellular immunotherapy, mostly the reasons are that they think cellular immunotherapy is irrelevant, useless or difficult to learn. This guides us to pay attention to the following things:1) Show the necessity of the education and communication. 2) Put our education in a simple and easy way for most people to understand.
4.The majority of people chose online media, then lecture and brochures to get information.
This shows that the three methods we plan to adopt are suitable for most people.
5.Most people are willing to receive cellular immunotherapy treatment when necessary, expecting it to be safe, effective and economical. Among the 9% of people who are unwilling to receive cellular immunotherapy, it is mainly because of the incomprehension of this therapy and safety issues, followed by economics. It shows that the tendency of people to accept the treatment mainly depends on whether or not they trust the treatment. To build trust, in addition to the safety of the therapy itself, popular education and communication is indispensable. In the promotion process of project with LZU-China, We learned from Lanzhou University that the concepts of synthetic biology are not well known in China, especially among student groups in the central and western regions with underdeveloped educational resources.
Based on the above facts, we decide to carry out our education package project, as detailed below
Through investigations, we have observed that the levels of education are so different in China. In more developed cities in China, such as Shanghai and Beijing, synthetic biology and IGEM are well known by high school students. In most areas, students know nothing about synthetic biology and IGEM. In order to improve this situation, we have teamed up with Lanzhou University (See Partnership for more details) to produce an education package for students and teachers in these areas. (More details in Partnership )
The education package contains a manual and educational resources in two parts: elementary education and high school education.
Primary school education resources:
1.Learning slides(with explanation)
2. CAR-macrophage children’s book.
High school education resources：
1. Slides for high school (with explanation)
2. Silent-CAR introduction video
3. Silent-CAR project manual
4. More information on IGEM competition instructions
5. Synthetic biology learning manual
6. CRISPR-Cas13 introduction video
1. In order to make it easier for the teacher to understand, our slides are designed with explanations.
2. According to the knowledge level and the availability of high school students, we combine the display content with the outline of high school biology curriculum.
3. Introduce complex concepts in a simpler way like information questions in the college entrance examination.
4. Prepare the "Synthetic Biology Learning Manual" written by our teachers and members of NMU-China and an introduction of the basic information of IGEM.
5. Use feedback form to understand whether the content of the education package is appropriate and seek for further improvements.
1.For High school student
In the design of high school education slides, we were fortunate to be guided by the high school biology teacher. Mr. Wang is our scientific advisor for Education Package. Mr. Wang has been teaching biology in Shude School for more than 20 years and has rich experience in biology teaching.
Xiang Wang, Biology Teacher, Shude High School
（1）Mr. Wang gave us a positive answer that the current high school biology education involves the SARS-CoV-2, which greatly established the confidence that our education package can be applied.
（2）For verities of biological concepts, we referred to high school biology textbooks and confirmed to Mr. Wang on each concepts. We briefly explain some concepts that students do not understand in the education package, so that the content of the education package meets the cognitive level and comprehension ability of high school students.
（3）After the first version of the slides was produced, Mr. Wang gave us some suggestions for improvement based on his own teaching experience.
1) The introduction of synthetic biology is little difficult to understand for high school students. 2) The explanation should focus on practical meaning and take the main meaning.
3) Try to imitate the model of information question in the college entrance examination and give more groundwork Information.
4) Be more specific.
Based on these suggestions, we improved the slides, trying to be more simple, clear, focused, and concrete, so as to achieve the purpose to make students understand synthetic biology through the project.
2. For elementary school students
Different from high school students, elementary students have a low level of knowledge, so we focused on the science education of SARS-CoV-2. The primary school version of slides focuses on the cognition of SARS-CoV-2 and ways to deal with the epidemic situation. We hope that through our presentation, students can have a certain understanding of the current epidemic situation, know how to protect themselves, and learn some scientific knowledge. Better if they can develop good habits and the interest in science.
Shude High School
We first applied our education package in Shude High School. Shude High School is a famous school in Sichuan Province, but it does not carry out IGEM project. Synthetic biology and IGEM are a whole new world for the students of Shude High School.
1)Teach a lesson
After a lesson, students in this class had a primary understanding of SARS-CoV-2 and knew about immunology and biotechnology through the projects of NMU and LZU. At the end of teaching, all the students were asked to find the combination of synthetic biology and the project design, answering how synthetic biology guide our project. The students said that this lesson broadened their horizons beyond the basis of high school biology, enriched their comprehension of biology and synthetic biology. To our delight, some students showed great interest in synthetic biology and were willing to learn more.
2)IGEM communication in the future
In the communication between Mr. Wang and us, Mr. Wang showed great willingness to make his students participate in iGEM. He said if given the opportunity, he would strongly support his students to join in. However, Shude High School does not have the experience of iGEM and teachers who are good at synthetic biology, lacking relevant guidance and conditions.
After we said that we could provide help and guidance, teacher Wang thought it would be very helpful. It started a new stage for our subsequent possible cooperation.
LZU-China used our Education Package and completed our users’ feedbak
On September 14, 2021, LZU-CHINA carried out an education activity at the Primary School affiliated to Lanzhou University in Gansu Province. During the presentation, the team had a friendly and close communication with students. The audience responded enthusiastically and actively interacted with the members of the LZU-CHINA. This education activity not only achieves the purpose of publicity, but also promotes the education for pupils.
Jinan Foreign Language Junior High School used our Education Package and completed our users’ feedbak
iGEMers from Jinan Foreign Language Middle School introduced SARS-CoV-2 and how to use biosynthetic technology to treat SARS-CoV-2 at Jinan Foreign Language School (junior high school) to help them expand their knowledge and better understand biology.
Northeastern University used our Education Package and completed our users’ feedbak
On the 13th, the NEU-China went to Shenyang No. 20 Middle School to conduct a science popularization on synthetic biology and SARS-CoV-2 .They also answered some questions on it.
To sum up, as the key education package developed by our team this year, it gathers a large number of educational resources related to synthetic biology, from popular science to professional guidance, which can make a person who has just come into contact with synthetic biology intoxicated. In the production process, we took into account the fact that synthetic biology is not popular in central and western China, hoping to plant the seeds of synthetic biology in these regions. We also paid attention to enlarge the influence of our education package. By cooperating with other teams （more details in Collaborations ,more details in Partnership ） , we passed our education package to more than 10 teams and more than 3000 people. We successfully carried out the offline practice in Shanghai, lanzhou, jinan and shenyang to improve our education package. Of course, the education package represents the expansion of our education work. Our team has been adhering to the traditional education method for a long time, which is also an indispensable part of our education work.
Synthetic Biology Learning Manual
The instructors of NMU-China chiefly write and the team members participate a "Synthetic Biology Learning Manual". In order to participate in the writing of this book, our team members read a lot of books and papers and actively consulted teachers in various fields. Finally, we successfully cooperated with our instructors to write this book.
This book introduces synthetic biology from eleven aspects.
Chapter One “Synthetic Biology Overview “introduces the origin and development of synthetic biology, its definition and connotation, and the problems it faces. Let students have an overall understanding of synthetic biology.
Chapter Two” Synthetic Biology and Related Disciplines” introduces the basic knowledge of molecular biology, systems biology, electronic engineering, genetic engineering and metabolic engineering, and their relationship with synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is a cross-discipline of many disciplines. Understanding the basic concepts of related disciplines will help students understand synthetic biology from different angles and lay the foundation for further study.
Chapters Three to Nine respectively introduce the components of synthetic biology, including chassis, gene expression regulation, biological bricks, logic gates, design of receptor gene and basic knowledge of modeling. By studying these chapters, students can understand the structure of synthetic biology and establish a "top-down" way of thinking.
At the end of the book, we introduce IGEM and the application of synthetic biology in various fields, combining synthetic biology with reality and guiding students to think about its practical significance.
This book answers many confusions of the public facing synthetic biology from the perspective of beginners. It can be used as a popular science book for synthetic biology enthusiasts to understand genes and their language, the working principles of gene circuits, and the principles of genetic elements. It can also be used as a guide book for IGEM participants.
Maybe books can reach places that people and the Internet can’t reach. We hope that through this book, more people will learn synthetic biology systematically and simply.
The electronic version this book has been confirmed and the publication is in progress.
Instructions to Freshman
COVID-19 is closely related to our project and affects our project in many aspects. Here, we would like to talk mainly about its negative impact on us, such as not being able to hold large off-line meetings, which is a hurdle for our human practice; and not being able to participate in conferences in other cities, which has hindered the collaboration and partnership of our project to some extent. Thanks to the strong prevention and control of our country, we can return to school in time to carry out the experiments smoothly. In short, COVID-19 has been influencing our project, while we are reciprocally influencing it as well.
Compared to other universities, iGEM is not well-known in our school. In order to change this situation, we conducted relevant lectures on synthetic biology and iGEM at our school. Synthetic biology should start from the infant. Every freshman is like a piece of uncultivated soil, waiting for us to cultivate. If we plant a SynBio seed in their minds, it may cultivate their spirit of seeking. We not only popularized the basic concepts of SynBio to them, but also shared our own experience to promote the spirit and responsibility of the iGEM competition to them.
Through the explanation of iGEM team members, the application of pictures and videos, more than 200 students had a preliminary understanding of synthetic biology and had a certain interest in iGEM competitions. Without this promotion, our team’s recruitment will not be so smooth. We have selected many outstanding members from them!
Freshman orientation on synthetic biology
Through surveying the major participating universities in China, we found that most of the universities with better results have opened relevant synthetic biology courses, such as Zhejiang University and Huazhong Agricultural University. Synthetic biology courses are not offered at other universities.
details as follows:
1. No synthetic biology courses
2. Synthetic biology courses are mainly open to biology-related majors
3. Synthetic biology courses are mainly for juniors
In order to enable more students to understand synthetic biology and for students who are interested to get more in-depth knowledge, our team's instructor has carried out an elective course of synthetic biology.
slides for elective courses
This year, NMU-China participated in the "Cell Factory" children’s book collection hosted by NNU-China. According to the cognitive level of the audiences of the book, the content is proposed to be easy to understand and combine with practicality and fun. That’s why we selected "Silent-CAR" in the "Toggle Macrophage" as the content of the book.
The picture book has 11 pages. The upper part introduces the process of SARS-CoV-2 invading the human body and replicating. It also shows the body's immune inflammatory response and disease developing. The lower part introduces the role of CAR. In addition, the "cell factory" produces CAR macrophages and inhibits inflammation and protects the body. In order to make these complex concepts interesting and easy to learn, we tell the story in personification and simile, such as "immune -force", "CAR- sword", "crown- spike protein", "weapon-immune factor", and so on, to construct the entire system of the story.
This book is merged into the "Cell Factory" children’s book collection. The electronic version is available for interested students to read. It can also be used as a popular science book to develop their interest in science. The paper version may be released in the future to expand the way of reading. At the same time, we also put the book into our education package.