Team:CSU CHINA/Education


Education & Science Communication


Being undergraduate iGEMers, we understand the inspiration that synthetic biology can kindle in young minds. To enlighten younger generations, we delivered lectures to students of various grades, explaining the profound in simple terms.

Synthetic Biology Day(Changsha No. 21 Middle School)

Date: October 9th, 2020

Place: Changsha No. 21 Middle School

Target: Junior high school student

What did we convey to them:

  • Synthetic biology's basic knowledge
  • Synthetic Bioethics
  • Biosafety in scientific research
  • Links between synthetic biology and biology subjects in middle school
  • The significance of the iGEM competition and the content of previous entries

We were grateful to have an opportunity to visit Changsha No. 21 Middle School. We aimed to convey synthetic biology's basic knowledge to students and hope to ignite their interest in science through fun and straightforward lessons. To help them comprehend the content, we used image-based teaching and question-and-answer methods, simplifying the process of implanting simple gene modules into cell bodies to construct complex biological components.

Image-based teaching

First of all, we introduced our theme with an animated short film reflecting high-performance genetic engineering design ideas in the future, successfully attracting students' attention and arousing their curiosity.

Animation video of gene engineering named Superfly 500 race

Brainstorming activity

We held a small brainstorming activity for them, guiding them to think of a way to solve problems with the help of synthetic biology. They were nterested and engaged in this particular session, throwing out countless and unique ideas. We hope to kindle passion in their young minds to be the next generation of iGEMers.

Biosafety mini-contest

At the end of this Synthetic biology day, a feverish biosafety trivia contest was carried out. We designed a set of biosafety related competition questions. Students worked in teams and used what they had learned during the day to scramble the topic options. The winners of the competition received custom-made notebooks from our team. Both the students and we had a happy and rewarding day.

Group photo of CSU_CHINA members and biosafety contest winners

What did this event bring us

Synthetic Biology Day is our first offline education activity in a real sense. The interactions with the middle school students throughout the day provided much inspiration and guidance for the educational activities we conducted afterward. The interactions with the middle school students throughout the day provided much inspiration and advice for our subsequent educational activities. Based on our observations, students seem to be more interested in introducing biology in the form of video clips and cartoon images. Therefore, we included more multimedia teaching in our next educational outreach to Yali Middle School and brought the synthetic biology textbooks we designed into schools, hoping that the biological knowledge can impress them more deeply.

Group photo of CSU_CHINA members and students from Changsha No.21 middle school

Synthetic Biology Club Courses(YALI High School)

At 7pm on September 28th, our CSU-China team visited YALI High school, which is one of the best schools in Hunan province. To further promote bio-science education in secondary schools, we lectured on synthetic biology and iGEM competition in detail to some tenth graders who were preparing to take part in The China High School Biology Olympiad (CHSBO). Members of the 2020 iGEM NUDT_CHINA team took part in this lecture, as well.

Introduce middle school students to synthetic biology

We introduced the students to some basic concepts of synthetic biology, from the food, medicine and materials that can be learned in daily life to science fiction movies and animations that students are interested in to broaden their imagination of what the world will look like with synthetic biology.

Existing applications of synthetic biology

Introduce high school students to synthetic biology

Our team also worked with the NUDT_CHINA team to compile a teaching material on synthetic biology.

Mainly includes:

  • The research content of synthetic biology
  • The relationship between synthetic biology and related disciplines
  • Synthetic biology in human health and medical treatment, biosynthesis and bioenergy, environmental monitoring and governance and other aspects.
  • Something about iGEM
  • The necessary information about CSU_CHINA & NUDT_CHINA.

Teaching handbook on synthetic biology

Introduce middle school students to the iGEM competition

Considering that high school students can also participate in iGEM and that many Chinese high school teams have won the awards, we introduced the iGEM competition in detail. We encouraged them to participate in iGEM to improve themselves.

We showed the Wiki pages and the project of the winning teams of previous years. The students showed significant interest in the iGEM competition and asked several questions about those projects.

Moreover, we also introduced the learning methods and experience in preparing for biology competition in high school. Inspire them to associate the subjects they have studied, such as molecular biology, genetic biology, and genetic engineering in biology competitions. We hope to enlighten them to use biological knowledge they have learned to understand synthetic biology. We also taught them synthetic biology’s principles of ethics, biosafety and so on.

NUDT_CHINA cooperated with us to explain the link between synthetic biology and biological competition, the difference between iGEM and normal biology academic competitions. By participating in the iGEM, they can enrich the system of knowledge, gain all-around improvement, and broaden their international perspective.

At the same time, we also played a video demonstrating the cadmium pollution in agriculture and our project’s goal this year.

In these activities, the students’ reactions were very positive. They demonstrated an unexpectedly strong interest in iGEM and synthetic biology. We held a brainstorming of bio-knowledge, where they carefully answered questions. To encourage them to pursue biology (with an iGEM theme), CSU_CHINA & NUDT_CHINA both prepared souvenirs, including bookmarks and notebooks with our iGEM team logo, which were a big hit with students.

The students were intrigued and asked the following questions:

  • What diseases can cadmium-polluted rice cause to human bodies?
  • How to prevent and control heavy metal pollution?
  • Can genetic engineering be applied to human bodies?
  • Will genetic modifications have an impact on other lives?

Students showed great interests in synthetic biology & iGEM and raised questions actively

As a very famous saying goes, education is not a matter of infusing, but of lighting a fire. For us, this event may be one of many HP activities. Still, it was a special day for the students. We hope that we succeeded in kindling their interests in biology, especially synthetic biology, opening up a new path for them, and revealing more possibilities for their futures. This is an inspiring thing.

Group photos of CSU_CHINA & NUDT_CHINA members and students from YALI High School

Small Molecules Online Courses

Date: August 7th, 2020

Schools covered by our online courses:

  • Wanbao Middle School, Antu County, Jilin Province (52 students)
  • Third Middle School, Antu County, Jilin Province (48 students)
  • Jingming Middle School, Jingchuan County, Gansu Province (65 students)
  • Some netizens from Shuangpai Second Middle School and Chenxi First Middle School (about 200 students)

Since the establishment of the IGEM competition, more and more college teams have participated in it, and synthetic biology has gradually entered the public vision. However, due to the uneven development of different regions in China, many children in backward areas have never heard of it. To stimulate children's interest in synthetic biology and arouse their concern about cadmium pollution, we cooperated with a summer social practice team named "Small Molecules" to introduce relevant knowledge.

The course content includes:

  • What is synthetic biology?
  • What fields can synthetic biology be applied to? What is its prospect?
  • Introduce CSU_CHINA's projects in previous years.
  • Introduce this year's project: synthetic biology and environment, the harm of cadmium pollution, and the purification function of algae.

Videos of our online courses

Affected by the epidemic, the course was changed to online. Online programs allow us to eliminate the geographical restrictions and engage students from many schools and even netizens to attend classes simultaneously. To achieve the same effect as offline, we organized a QQ group to answer questions in real-time, commented and left messages after WeChat articles, and interacted with video barrage.

CSU_CHINA in “Small Molecules” practice team’s article

Students are watching our videos

What amazed us is that when children jumped out from textbooks and spoke freely, their wonderful imagination:

Knowledge difficulty
Marvellous idea
Human practices

Q: What are the differences between genetic engineering and synthetic biology?

A: Genetic engineering continues changing and transferring the genes from one species to another. At the same time, synthetic biology starts with the most essential elements. It builds parts step to step to establish an artificial biosystem.

Through our online course, students have a preliminary understanding of synthetic biology. At the age when they first came into contact with biology, we took synthetic biology as an example to show them the infinite possibilities of biological developments, which made them realize that biology is not only a subject to recite books to get higher scores, but also a brush to depict the future and show your own creativity.

iGEM Promotional Presentation at Central South University

September 24th, 2020

On September 24th, the Conference on Undergraduate Innovation and Entrepreneurship was held at Central South University. Hundreds of students from bioscience and clinical medicine participated in the event.

Wenxin Duan was performing the presentation

At the Conference, Wenxin Duan, the representative of the 2019 iGEM team ‘CSU_China’, took the gold award topic “TNBC Assassin” as an example, introduced the process and direction of iGEM, and gave many suggestions for participation. iGEM values not only scientific research results but humanities and technology. The impact on society must be considered, as well. This presentation attracted many students who are interested in iGEM to join the team

iGEM Promotional Articles and Videos with Excellent Response

After the practice in 2019, the WeChat official platform of Central South University reported on the team's achievements and member introduction as the headline news, which gained more than 10,000 views, 31 remarks, 58 reposts, and 351 likes. The article promoted synthetic biology and the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM).

A college student said: "This is the first time I have heard of this competition. I hope that the CSU team members can get better grades next year."

It significantly expands the reputation of the event and allows more students to participate in it with passion.

So far, the CSU_CHINA promotion video we posted on the Weibo account have received more than 6,700 views, which greatly expanded the project's visibility.