Coral protection is not only a experiment in the laboratory, but also a challenging and continuous publicity to change people's mind and educate more people with the concept about the importance of coral in the environment. What's more, in order to make our results known and accepted by the public, we also need some accesses to tell about our CHLORIS project and call for more people to get involved in coral conservation.
Clubs in the schools are often the place where inspiration and creativity are sparked, and we believe that we can gain more surprises by promoting the knowledge of iGEM and synthetic biology in clubs. Therefore, we came into contact with the President Yuling Gu and the vice President Yishan Mao of the biology club in WFLA, and planned to organize a remote synthetic biology teaching course. In this course, have illustrated our CHLORIS (Coral Health Boost and Reinforcement in Symbiosis) project, knowledge related rules of iGEM competition. Three members from Hainan_China gave a comprehensive and detailed explanation the pre-experiment, genetic modification and microfluidic chip of CHLORIS, especially the specific steps and concepts about gene engineering. Thirty-eight students from the biology club participated in this educational lecture. In the conference room and the chat group, we had a heated discussion about the selection of biological experiment samples, construction of the engineered bacteria, PCR experiment and the conversion and combination . The students showed great interest about the new modified bacteria and paid more attention to the terrible situation of coral bleaching.
Publicity On New Media
In the modern society, new media, such as WeChat, is a crucial and important platform for effective publicity. During the whole project, we are always working on spreading the knowledge through new media. After we finished the public survey about corals, we found that more than half of the people we investigated didn't know exactly whether coral polyp is an animal or a plant. Thus, we decided to write a popular science article that can help people know the definition of corals and help them to tell apart coral reefs, coral polyps, and the calcified exoskeleton. Our team members and the readers reposted these articles to their social accounts and made their own contribution to make more and more people learn about the coral protection. Their reposting greatly increased the exposures of our article and made more people touch the knowledge of coral.
After that, we received many comments under the article from the readers wanting us to write more about other factors of corals, marine situation, and even gene engineering. Hence, we decided to create a series of popular science articles on corals in the team official account called"Matrix Link".We then wrote another two popular science articles explaining coral bleaching and depicting the evolution of corals to perfect the structure of information in the account. The protection of marine environment and coral is a long-term project that needs continuous and incessant effort. We will keep spreading the knowledge and make the situation of coral a common sense for the public.
Chain Reaction and World Ocean Day
Based on our questionnaire analysis, the HP team decided to use social media on smart phones with images and written words in order to spread the scientific knowledge. In order to maximize the spread and make it more effective, we have contacted Professor Yuan working in the school of information and economic management, East China Normal University. She aimed towards the characteristics of Internet information dissemination and introduced to us the term "social network", making us became more confident that using social media as a public science popularization tool is effective and can be accepted by most internet users.
The colorful seabed images can easily capture smart phone users' attention. Scientific words that are concise and to the point can spread very important information in a short period of time. Every team member should undertake the original information spreading's panel point, using the aid of the influence if the World Ocean's Day, we will be able to fully use the spreading trend of social network to spread the idea of coral protection and the aim of IGEM, making the public be able to access interesting scientific knowledges during these challenging times.
We are very delighted that Dr Wu has listened to our final research results and participated our discussion on the content of the 'popularization of science' poster, giving us corrections on coral related data that's been presented. After some intense discussions in the team, we finally decided to release the information in 2020/6/8---the World Ocean Day. Our popularization of science' poster soon has been retransmitted and liked by friends and teachers, there were also feedbacks from friends, family members and even strangers. Surprisingly, the contents in the poster has caused some discussions in other teams as well.
This new round of discussion has driven our attention, it origins from the challenge of a thirteen-year old girl and it is basically around the question of whether coral is a kind of animal or just a skeleton. We think this is a good chance for us to interact with other teams, so according to the question she asked, we focused on the issue of the differences between the translation of "coral" in English and Chinese. We divided into groups and researched loads of both Chinese and English materials based on coral and we figured out that because of the different rules of scientific naming in different languages, it often can be misleading for people to really understand what coral is. After knowing this fact, we have considered that this might be a common problem, so we have written a new scientific article based on "what is a coral" and published on our teams' official account on social media. At the same time, we have followed the spreading track of this information and contacted the girls' parents, using this article to solve her confusion. Later, the girl shared the article with her classmates in the school and made a presentation about the corals in the school. This helped the coral gain more attention from the public. We are very happy that coral can be a topic discussed by people and there are more people who are willing to disseminate the knowledge.