As a tradition that continues from 2016, BNDS_China prepares for the recruitment of the prospective iGEMers in every September, passing on previous knowledge and experiences. For the sake of helping them to get a basic understanding of synthetic biology, we choose to use BioBuilder as the textbook to assist their learning.
However, BioBuilder writes the part "molecular cloning" in a very general way, causing the prospective iGEMers confused a lot; we also hear some feedback and complaint regarding that. In this way, we decide to hold a meeting, teaching them more specific points about molecular cloning, allowing them to prepare for being a real iGEMer in the future.
Considering many specific factors, we decide to hold an online meeting during the National Day to present our materials to the prospective iGEMers. Because we are all high school students, academic pressure and various extra-curriculum activities make it difficult for us to meet offline to discuss regularly. And more importantly, due to the COVID-19, we should avoid face-to-face contact as much as possible. Besides that, most of the students have more flexible time during the National Day holiday, which is an excellent opportunity for us to use the convenient internet to access wider audiences and then attract them to attend our presentation. Just like offline, our presenters and the students can interact in real-time to solve some remaining questions. Additionally, we can record the whole meeting and make it into a valuable video material to help more students. Based on these considerations, we eventually choose to hold this online presentation on National Day.
We conducted two online meetings during the National Day holiday to teach prospective iGEMers some specific knowledge about synthetic biology, allowing them to have a glimpse of what is synthetic biology looks like.
For the first meeting (Figure 1), Jingcheng Yu talked about several significant definitions and processes in Biochemistry. Firstly, he introduced the basic structure of RNA and DNA, as well as their marked characteristics, which is the foundation of more complicated things in synthetic biology. Although this is relatively simple, if the prospective iGEMers don’t understand this first, they will confuse a lot. Moving on, he explained the central dogma of molecular biology: replication, transcription, and translation. Besides that, Jingcheng Yu also briefly introduced the Polymerase chain reaction, which is one of the important techniques that will be used in future iGEM research.
For the second meeting (Figure 2), Wanji Li introduced one of the difficulties in synthetic biology: molecular cloning. Firstly, he reviewed the materials presented in the first meeting, such as the structure of DNA, further strengthening prospective iGEMer’s memory and understanding about these basic points. Next, after talking about several significant enzymes in molecular cloning, he explained three different kinds of cloning, which is traditional cloning, BioBrick Assembly, and Gibson Assembly, as well as the advantages of each of them. Understanding the principles behind these techniques can benefit the prospective iGEMers a lot during future learning and project design.
Additionally, one of our team members Lihan Li recorded the two meetings, and thus we can publish the video online to reach wider audiences, improving our educational significance.
For these two meetings, it is great that we used an innovative way to allow the prospective iGEMers to get a basic understanding of synthetic biology before joining BNDS_2021. Moreover, we helped clear the way for the prospective iGEMers to learn synthetic biology and eliminated the confusion aroused during reading BioBuilder, especially the part of molecular cloning, gradually improving the ability of future team members. On this other hand, due to the COVID-19, our preparation time for this activity is relatively limited, so we only held on two online meetings, which is far from enough. In this way, we decide to conduct a series of such meetings and record them into videos, in order to present our materials systematically.