IMG-DES Communication | RS_United_China - iGEM 2022
Overview of Education & Communication Material Selection and outreach Online educational videos and WeChat account Charity sales Offline Exhibitions Video game related to synthetic biology Educational books

What is the meaning to educate and communicate in iGEM?

A few experts’ single efforts never progress science without letting the public know their progress. Moreover, sharing results with the outside may provide a new foundation for other scientists to work on. Therefore, education and communication have a more significant meaning in iGEM, where the value of the result means the absolute value of the research and the value of spreading knowledge to the world.

Overview of Education & Communication
Material Selection and outreach

When it comes to education, the material is essential. However, the format of delivering knowledge is changing as time goes by. To better understand the public’s preference for receiving knowledge, we surveyed to acquire the public’s general taste before we decided on our material. Throughout the research, the team finally settled upon four primary materials for education and science communication:

Different materials have their own main targeted audiences.

Online educational videos and WeChat account

The first format is online educational video. Videos are targeted towards teenagers and young adults ranging from 18-35. The group of people are familiar with video the format. Our research shows that the group is more likely to acquire news and information through video and interactive platform like WeChat. Educational video is a one way communication between the team and the audience, as the main purpose of this kind of material is to tell what we have done and spread knowledge about synthetic biology. We have made several videos and published them on WeChat account. We have 18 members in our team. We have reached more than 10 thousand media coverage by using WeChat platform. In the meanwhile, we also published our WeChat posts regularly to let the public know more about us and our research program. The audience is general public. We also introduce knowledge about synthetic biology through our posts. We have more than 200 followers now and every post has more than 100 times of reading volume.

Charity sales

Our second format is through online and offline charity sales, a unique way of collecting funds to support charity programs, showing the team is responsible and contributing to the world. The merchandise the team sells in online & offline charity sales are products related to the team, like T-shirts with the team’s logo printed. Apart from spreading team culture, some merchandise has practical use related to the theme, such as pillows and blindfolds. Charity sales are a new way of educating people. Nowadays in China, due to heavy work pressure and other stresses, they tend to go to the internet, especially using mobile to see so-called live streams to hear different stories and sometimes buy products. In China we call it ”直播带货“ .In our sales presentation, we don’t just sell our peripheral products. Still, we also introduce basic synthetic biology knowledge via stories so the audience can learn more about cutting-edge technology and its background. This communication method targets people majorly age range from 25-40. The group will be future parents of the next generation. If they can understand more about synthetic biology, it will help the future generation to accept the technology and use them to change the world. Due to the epidemic prevention and control policy, we only conduct online charity sales. However, we have raised about 3500RMB profit so far. All the profits will be used to improve our project, develop new tools for education, or donate to certain NGOs. We have currently donated 1500 RMB to a charity that work with Children with autism.

Offline Exhibitions 

The third format is offline exhibitions in schools. The main targeted audience are students. The exhibition includes an introduction to some of the basic concepts of synthetic biology so that we can inspire other students who are also interested in biotechnology. We have conducted two exhibitions for two weeks. First, we provided the content and description needed for the posters. In addition, we also introduce the experimental techniques we applied in labs, such as PCR and bacteria culturing. Then we focused on designing and setting up the exhibition board at school. Since it is a static exhibition that no one was actively explaining and promoting, we put our boards in the main lobby so everyone could easily access our content. We estimated that about 40 students read our posters every day after school. Therefore, there are about 200 students and teachers per week. We hope that this exhibition can help students in our school to have a better understanding of synthetic biology and its current potential. We did the exhibition together with iGEM team LZU-HS-CHINA-C. The way of Education & communication will set up a potential concept in students’ brains and enrich their casual time, like waiting for friends and class breaks.

Video game related to synthetic biology 

A video game is also a revolutionary method for us as a way to educate! The targeted audience is also young people. Traditional learning method takes a learning system and time. We have conducted some internal research on our team. Some team members said that biology is somewhat not easy to understand, especially for beginners.

On the other hand, video game is top-rated among young people. As long as the game is fun, users will remember the concepts even if they usually are hard to understand. Learning from the game: This is a new way of acquiring knowledge. The original idea was from a team member who played a video game called “Assassin’s Creed”. It allows players to play while experiencing beautiful scenery worldwide and, more importantly, learn part of history without even trying to read a history book. Plus, it helped him raise interest in European history. We worked closely with an FRC robotics team 8813 from Beijing and developed the game. We have developed a prototype. The game is accessible here:

Educational books

Books are the most traditional way of education. We also retained this traditional way of education in this year's iGEM program. This year, we cooperated with SZ-SHD team to complete an educational book, which introduces the primary experimental process of our two teams and the equipment and materials needed for the experiment. Such educational books can help more people who have a preliminary understanding of synthetic biology to understand our scientific research project better and better popularize scientific knowledge to the public. The book is divided into three parts, a brief introduction about synthetic biology in real life and the biology techniques used in both groups (such as the agrobacterium-mediated transformation we used). In each section, there is a discussion about the purpose of each method and the general step of performing the lab and some simple question that help the public to have a better understanding on what we are doing. Our main popularity group is set in China, so our books are currently in Chinese. In the future, we will translate English, French, and many other languages.

educational books

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