Rapid development in science brought about problems in terms of regionally imbalanced resources distribution including education, because of which the social hierarchical system was increasingly consolidated.
Education has been regarded as a fundamental resource for decades. Recently, though countries throughout the world attempted to reform education systems, education imparity still persecuted marginalized individuals and those who were historically disadvantaged. This phenomenon could be widely witnessed in the developing country which was becoming an ongoing crisis. In 35 out of 144 countries, fewer than 50% of the poorest children have completed primary school.1 And in China, inequity in school funding, qualified teachers were still quite common in specific regions.
We believe that the most impactful way to wipe out injustice and inequality is to promote rational allocation of resources especially to those in need. This was why this year ZJU_China reached out to populations different in their demographic and socioeconomic status, particularly those who were left out of the opportunity to be engaged in currently developing synthetic biology: poor students with no decent education in China.
China is a country with severe education inequity. And under the influence of exam- oriented education, literature and basic science including synthetic biology were seriously overlooked. However, as iGEMs, who undertake the due obligations to propagate knowledge of synthetic biology, we are keen to share our understanding of this subject to students who have no access to it. In addition, life science has a bright prospect for development. With the deficiency of biological knowledge, our students could hardly hold a place in a world with rapid development of science.
Being a team with a strong sense of social responsibility, ZJU-China is willing to make contributions to helping students living in poverty get out of this predicament. Considering that iGEM community bears the spirit of synthetic biology, ZJU-China this year carried out scientific popularization of synthetic biology for primary schoolstudents in poor areas. We went to these schools and presented to students what synthetic biology is to popularize the basic knowledge of synthetic biology.
What did We Do?
Considering our docking schools Xinjiang Pishan primary school located in the poor areas, it was hard to estimate the cognitive level of students there, therefore, we designed a quiz game to know children’s grasp of biology knowledge, in order to make a more suitable teaching plan catering to local conditions. Three different forms of materials were delivered to the students to establish and deepen their understanding of synthetic biology.
With abundant experience to host a lecture, ZJU_China this year went to Pishan primary school to give face-to-face lessons to students in Pishan to help them acquire knowledge of synthetic biology under permission of authorisation and COVID-19 situation. Considering students didn’t have a network of prerequisites in synthetic biology, we presented how synthetic biology could shape the world rather than introducing our project to students directly which could possibly boost their interests in synthetic biology. Our contact information was left for students there for further connection in case they had any questions and inclination in this area.
For other schools with electronic facilities, recorded lectures and broadcasting were played to best restore the effect of face to face study. The broadcasting was made by ZJUBTV for educational purposes. The content of our broadcasting covered how synthetic biology could benefit the world, the frontline development of synthetic biology and our Viruguard to cater to the understanding level of both primary school and university students.
The videos for SynBio knowledge and Viruguard popularization were made. Through these videos, we integrated synthetic knowledge that existed in our daily life, including the manufacture of insulin, etc, which could be amusing for different level learners to study. We were committed to stimulating audiences’ interest and making more people enjoy their first experience in synthetic biology. These videos were posted in Bilibili and Youtube which are accessible for all.
Education To Public
Besides our education to those in poor areas, we believed it was also our responsibility to share the diverse synthetic biology world and Viruguard to the public. In order to inspire those who might be the next generation of synthetic biology practitioners, ZJU China was devoted to facilitating sharing and promotions of high-quality material and resources. The access to those materials could be found in the link in our WeChat official account bio. To further increase the prevalence of SynBio and Viruguard, we defined several different target populations according to the community organizations they are from, including students of China Academy of Art, medical interns in affiliated hospitals and recruited enrolled students from all over China.
Jiangchu gave a live lecture to all the medical interns in affiliated hospitals of ZJU to introduce the clear-cut indications of Viruguard, including the radiodiagnosis, tumor markers increases and so on. The feedback of interns to the application of our product were collected, most of which thought our therapy could gain priority in future HCC treatment tragedies through further improvement.
Thanks to students of China Academy of Art supporting and giving recommendations to us in the design of Wiki interface, Guanrui delivered a special talk to them to introduce our Viruguard which gave them a first look at the frontline of biology. And we would like to maintain mutual communication to take complementary advantages.
For the sake of the general public, we also held an online Synbio forum. Scholars, students, and the public could sign up online to join in our discussion. Our team member Boyan hosted the fair to promote the collision of thoughts from different sectors of society.