Education in senior high school

Our education practice this year is oriented towards high school students, hoping to provide junior students with opportunites for better understanding synthetic biology, and for thinking beyond high school classroom and textbooks. At the same time, we also see our education practice as a mutual learning process, in which we can rethink and refine our own ideas through active communication and feedback.

Fig.1 Discussion notes in Yali.

During the summer vacation, our team members, together with fellow iGEMers from team CSU and NUDT, held seminars for Senior First students from several high schools, including Yali Middle School, HNSDFZ and Hengshui High School of Hebei. We made presentations introducing synthetic biology, the iGEM competition and our own projects, and organized group discussion sessions with various themes.

In designing our educational programme, we took careful consideration of the participants' background knowledge as high school students. We discussed with the high school team THIS-China about the schedule and contents, so as to ensure that our programme could meet the students' interests, and that the messages we meant to deliver could be easily grasped.

Fig.2 Presentation session in Yali.

Our presentations mainly aimed to convey a general idea about the approaches and capabilities of synthetic biology, and to provide different perspectives on its influence upon scientific knowledge, technologies and the human society itself. In addition, we made sure that we had provided sufficient background information, such as basic principles of biochemistry and molecular biology, before advancing into more specialized fields.

Fig.3 Presentation session in HNSDFZ.

For the discussion sessions, we also chose themes that centered more upon the social instead of technological aspect of synthetic biology, so that students can be well-engaged without professional biological knowledge. For instance, in Yali Middle School, we encouraged students to list possible safety and ethnical issues in our project Gut Matters. These arrangements coincided with our fundamental view that social concerns should always persist and be valued in all scientific and technological pursuits.

Finally, we collected feedback from participants using the questionnaire designed by Team CSU, and discussed together how we can make synthetic biology more accessible to high school students in future programmes.

Fig.4 Participants of the seminar in Yali.


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