Based on the definition of public engagement, which the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public, this year we team iGEM Tianjin conducted the mission of scattering the concepts of PET bio-degradation, synthetic biology and iGEM competition to ordinary people mainly in two aspects---Education and Public Engagement.
On the afternoon of September 23, 2016, we went to Baitangkou primary school to make a presentation, aiming to let more pupils learn about the conception of synthetic biology and arouse the consciousness of fighting against the plastic pollution and protecting our earth. During the class, these primary students were filled with enthusiasm and eager to answer the questions we asked, which revealed their interests in synthesis biology. The meaningful class ended up with intense debate of how to deal with white pollution. We gave out our team emblem stickers and some other gifts to them.
On Sep.18th, we departed for Dagang No.1 Middle School. We gave a lecture to students about iGEM and synthetic biology. They asked questions with great enthusiasm and felt curious about the knowledge out of books. Although the speech was over till 5:30 p.m., some students were still asking about synthetic biology.They thought that knowledge they studied at school was traditional and out of date, iGEM could make them get in touch with the cutting-edge knowledge of synthetic biology. We are very delighted to bring students some new knowledge and meanwhile we invited them to visit our laboratory and conduct some experiments.
On September 27th, five members of our team went to Tianjin University of Science and Technology (TUST) and gave a speech on what is synthetic biology and how to set up a iGEM team. TUST is a key university in Tianjin, which is famous for its excellent fermentation engineering and food engineering subject. Almost all the seats were occupied by audience.Since the term of iGEM competition is almost a band new term for them, they showed great interests and talked with us enthusiastically. We gave them a plenty of suggestions according to the experience of our project and finally they claimed that they would recruit members this semester and register for a team next year. .
To make the ordinary students engaged in iGEM, we team Tianjin together with Beiyang Environment-Protecting Association held a debate competition discussing ethical issues provoked by the application of synthetic biology, aiming to publicize the conception of synthetic biology and arouse attention to biotechnology.
The debate began at 20 p.m., Sep.28th and lasted for an hour. The topic was whether it is safe to curb environmental pollution with artificial modified bacterium. Our team members were invited as special guests to watch this intense competition. During the interval, we gave out iGEM handbooks and souvenirs to audience. After that, we made a brief introduction of synthetic biology and our project.
Generally speaking, the debate was very successful. We were delighted to collaborate with Beiyang Environment-Protecting Association. It was glad to see that everyone participating in the game were intrigued by this subject. The successful hosting of the debate epitomized our great publicity of synthetic biology.
Engagement Ⅱ：TEDA Eco Centre (NGO)
Engagement Ⅲ ：Social Media
In this summer, we team Tianjin contacted Team Pasteur, Team Pittsburgh, Team Valencia UPV, Team Virginia and Team NTU about the questionnaire collaboration. We established and led a survey union with their support. We made a questionnaire about synthetic biology and iGEM competition together through email correspondence.
We posted it on our twitter and facebook, then many iGEM teams reposted it on their homepage and many iGEMers as well as ordinary people participated in it . We are very delighted to see their enthusiastic engagement!
Engagement Ⅳ ：Questionnaire Survey
We made the public engaged in our project this year with the method of questionnaire survey. Actually we conducted two versions of surveys this year. The former one has been clarified in part Engagement Ⅲ ：Social Media.
As for the latter one, we investigated the daily use of plastic products and the attitude of people towards the bio-degradation of plastic.
The following pictures are our partial results.
Through the survey, we realize that a majority of people have noticed recent severe plastics pollution and are not satisfied with extant disposal methods. They look forward to a better way to control the ‘white pollution’. Besides, in terms of technology of ‘white pollution’ control, most people have knew something about biological plastics degradation and think highly of it. They hope that scientists will do further research. From the survey we also notice the public consciousness of ‘white pollution’ and how urgent and necessary we should fix this problem. At the same time, it reinforces our confidence and enthusiasm to solve it using biological method. We will definitely make great efforts to explore and figure out something meaningful to live up to public expectation.
Briefly speaking, we team iGEM Tianjin gave lectures to students in Baitangkou primary school, Dagang No.1 middle school and TUST respectively. In addition, we held a debate in our school with respect to synthetic biology. And also, we visited the TEDA green technology exhibition hall to exchange ideas about waste disposal. We presented our project, PET bio-degradation to them and took a deep and meticulous look at TEDA’s green technologies. Finally, we conducted two questionnaire surveys about synthetic biology and plastic pollution by scattering them by social media. In conclusion, I think our human practice work has provoked a considerable number of people engaged in our project and we are definitely eligible for this prize this year.