TAS_Taipei sought to include other people in the field of synthetic biology and science in general, from extending educational opportunities to disproving pseudoscience theories.
BIOETHICS PANEL - BLOOD TYPE CORRELATION WITH PERSONALITY TRAITS
In some countries, employers will consider one’s blood type as a factor for employment. This is known as the blood type personality theory, or in Japan called the Ketsueki-gata theory, and is based on the notion that a person’s blood type is directly correlated to their personality (Walden University, 2021).
We decided to test this theory at our Bioethics Panel with a Kahoot icebreaker game in which each table worked collaboratively to assign blood types to our TAS faculty members using the Ketsueki-Gata Theory Blood Type Personality Chart (see Fig 1).
Figure 1 - Ketsueki-Gata Theory charts that were passed out during the Bioethics Panel for the Kahoot Game
We performed a Pearson’s Chi-Squared goodness of fit statistical analysis test using Kahoot results from the Bioethics Panel. We wanted to determine whether the Ketsueki-Gata Theory is an effective way to classify people’s blood types based on their personality. Our results showed that there was not a statistically significant difference between each of the blood type choices for each faculty member; essentially, each table group was merely guessing the blood types and the personality chart provided by the Ketsueki-Gata Theory did not provide assistance in the process. Our statistical test shows that one cannot accurately predict a person's blood type by assessing subjective personality traits. (For further technical details, refer to CHI-SQUARED TEST FOR BIOETHICS PANEL in the Education Page)
It is clear that a person should not be discriminated against during the employment process based on their blood type because there is no correlation between blood type and personality traits.
We launched our own educational website in early July of 2021 (tinyurl.com/TASTaipei-SynBioEducation) containing activity packets intended to teach those interested in learning about synthetic biology all over the world. This launch date coincides with summer break, providing resources for teachers who are preparing materials for the new school year or parents looking for summer learning material. Inclusivity is a central focus of this website; our free and downloadable activity packets come in both English and Mandarin Chinese, as does our website. We want to lower the barriers to education and allow everyone to have access to free learning resources to learn about fascinating science topics. These online activity packets are especially beneficial during the Covid-19 pandemic time period, as it allows students to learn safely without the need of in-person classes.
Each activity packet is composed of an instructional video, printable worksheet, and a “potential answer” answer key. To give an introduction to synthetic biology, there are 3 different activity packets: central dogma, gene expression, and gel electrophoresis. These downloadable materials allow people to learn scientific concepts without the need of lab materials. To make these materials applicable to younger ages, the worksheet activities are puzzle-based. When students complete an activity packet, they can email us a photo of their completed worksheet to receive a certificate.
Figure 2 - Home page of our Synthetic Biology educational website
We partnered with the BioBuilder Educational Foundation to create a Google Slide Presentation that digitized our “Gene Expression” activity packet. Educators can make their own copy of this presentation and make changes that will be adapted to their class. Along with BioBuilder, we distributed our education website to science-related Facebook groups as well as local schools.
STEM Workshop - iGEM X GIRLS IN STEM x FRC
In September of 2021, we partnered with Girls in STEM (GIS), a student organization within our school with a mission to mitigate the STEM gender gap, as well as our school’s First Robotics Competition (FRC) team to hold a collaboration event: STEM Workshop. STEM Workshop aimed to break down barriers students face when trying to enter STEM fields and allow students to gain an introductory understanding of the varying STEM fields. We invited young female students to explore, through hands-on experience, science, and technology fields. Our event promoted inclusivity and equity in male-dominated fields of study and encouraged young women to break down gender barriers in STEM. One survey found that out of 236 companies in the synthetic biology industry, only 14.4% (34 companies) were led by women (Hyde 2018). However, synthetic biology, while still being a relatively new field, is able to fully address the gender inequality in STEM fields, and thus our workshop raised awareness while actively promoting female involvement in the field (Schyfter 2020). TAS_Taipei, GIS, and FRC all held hour-long workshops in the fields of synthetic biology, data science, and robotics, respectively. TAS_Taipei’s own workshop focused on teaching and giving an introduction to DNA extraction and bacterial streaking.
The 30 participants, split off into three groups of ten, were first introduced to the field of Synthetic Biology and our team’s project. We then moved on to discuss the gender disparities that exist within the field and how TAS_Taipei is striving to reduce the stigmatization of women joining the STEM field. After that, we gave an introduction to the basics of DNA and went over each step of the protocol to extract DNA from strawberry samples. Participants then shifted to the hands-on portion of the workshop, where they followed the DNA extraction protocol with the help of our team members. After the DNA was successfully extracted from the strawberry cells, we regrouped and introduced the next activity, bacterial streaking. We first demonstrated how to streak agar plates, then allowed the participants to choose from a variety of colorful strains to draw on the plates with. Through this, the participants were able to learn lab techniques while having fun and creating art. We ended the workshop by explaining how bacterial streaking helps us with making proteins for our project and then sent the group of participants off to their next workshop as we waited for our next group to arrive.
Figure 3 - Participants extracting DNA from strawberries
Figure 4 - Bacteria designs created by STEM Workshop participants
Aboriginal school - TAS_Taipei X TAS IF Club X Jianshi Junior High School
In October of 2021, together with Initiative Formosa Club, another TAS organization promoting Taiwanese culture through service, we partnered with Jianshi Junior High School, a school serving the Atayal Aboriginal population of Jianshi Township, Hsinchu County, Taiwan. The Aboriginal population of Taiwan, having been historically discriminated against, now face a disadvantage in acquiring resources for education. With a mission to achieve equity in education, TAS_Taipei hosted a virtual introductory level lesson in science for students in 7th to 9th grade and sent over materials and equipment needed for the lesson.
Figure 5 - Virtual Lesson with Jianshi Jr. High Students
Our lesson first reviewed concepts of mass and volume, in turn giving an introduction to density, concentrations, and dilutions of solutions. The students were then introduced to lab equipment and techniques using the materials we sent over. After familiarising themselves with the lab skills, the students were given a colored solution and asked to conduct a serial dilution to a certain concentration, with a demonstration as an example. Then they were presented with a scenario involving diluting the solution until the color was no longer visible, and were asked to devise methods to calculate the concentration of the “clear” solution. Through this activity, we gave the students an increased opportunity to not only conduct hands-on experiments, but also to explore and help develop their interests in the sciences.
Figure 6 - Group photo with the Jianshi students
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