Team:XMU-China/Human Practice



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iGEM is not only a scientific competition which provides a stage for us undergraduates to display our work done at the laboratory but also a driving force to popularize synthetic biology to the public. Furthermore, considering the theme of Asia division this year is system biology & society, we organized a series of activities related to society and the public.

From July 16th to 17th, We held a lecture entitled "Contemporary introduction to synthetic biology" with corresponding campus fair and exhibition in order to help high school students make a better understanding of synthetic biology, genetic engineering and biosafety. Thanks to the summer camp hosted by Xiamen University, thousands of high school students from Fujian Province took part in our activities related to our theme. On the one hand, we let the high school students have a better understanding of our project and iGEM via the lecture. On the other hand, we expected our elucidation to express how much genetic engineering contributes to our daily life in food, energy, material and so on. These students are just like seeds we sow to help synthetic biology and genetic engineering well understood by the public, which is really important and meaningful to the popularization of synthetic biology and iGEM.

In addition, before the lecture we made a survey about popularization of synthetic biology & iGEM in high school students from all over Fujian Province. It is not only to get some important and cogent data about popularization of synthetic biology & iGEM but also to get some feedback about the effect of our lecture via comparing their attitude and reaction to our questions before and after the lecture. What’s more, we designed a special series of cards with the theme of synthetic biology for the campus fair.

We plotted and organized the whole HP together with XMU_software, another iGEM team from our university. And we assisted XMU_software to finish the theme fresco on Furong Tunnel. We thought some good ideas when brainstorming human practice together and everyone tried his best to achieve our goal.

In a word, we did a series of various but clear-thematic activities this year which not only improved our project greatly but also an alternative popularization of synthetic biology.


What is synthetic biology on earth? Most people will present a confused expression when hearing this subject. Before the lecture we made a survey, finding that in fact nearly 70% of the respondents didn’t understand the meaning of the term. Fortunately through our lecture, we got our audience across to the basic principle and a general situation of synthetic biology. The lecture was held in the chemistry lecture hall, Xiamen University on July 7th. And there was no empty seat in the hall, which was far beyond our expectation. Lots of students even stood the whole lecture. The lecture has five parts, including introduction of synthetic biology, iGEM, iGEM-XMU , iGEM-HS program and our following activity——campus fair.

Synthetic biology is a newly-developing subject. Our iGEM-XMU team used simple words with vivid pictures to illustrate the generation and development of this discipline. What’s more, we introduced some basic knowledge of genetic safety in an interesting video. These unfamiliar words such as bacteria and gene got across well in our lecture. And pointed to the worrying biosafety in the lab as well as in the public, we introduced some basic knowledge and principal related to biosafety. Some high school students talked with us about genetically modified food and transgenic technology after the lecture. As we expected, these students are just like seeds we sow to help synthetic biology and genetic engineering well understood by the public. More important thing is, this younger generation could accept synthetic biology, genetic engineering and other advanced science and technology under a promise of a correct understanding of biosafety and ethical problems related with transgenic technology. It would be really beneficial to the whole society we hope.

In addition, we introduced iGEM, including the start, development and goal of this competition to have the high school students know why we are crazy about it. After that we presented some excellent projects, from biosynthesis to software, to stimulate them to enjoy this game. Every program included has its specialty, from bacteria with fluorescence to E.coli that can detect spoiled meat, as well as a kind of automatic LegoTM robot. They were all impressed by the charming synthetic biology shows. iGEM-XMU, a good team with two gold medals in Asia division in the last two years was invited to MIT to compete with the top undergraduates all over the world and achieved a great success. We then introduced our development and our 2013 team, including our project.

We got to know that China had four teams entering the 2012 iGEM-HS competition and made a brilliant achievement. In order to get a better popularization of iGEM-HS in China, we show these high school students some interesting iGEM-HS programs to draw their attention to this competition. Our efforts paid off. Inspired by what they saw, these high school students hoped to popularize synthetic biology and iGEM to make contributions to the development of this interesting project. They believed they can organize a next Chinese iGEM-HS team as well with our help in lab and other aspects. They wished that we can keep a long interaction and cooperation.

During the lecture there was a really positive interaction between these high school students and our team. Every student participates in the knowledge competition, answering questions related to biological safety and some lucky dogs won our special rewards. In order to have a better and deeper communication, our team members exchanged E-mail address and telephone number with some high school students who were really interested what we mentioned in the lecture.

Campus Fair

We held a campus fair and related exhibition with the theme of synthetic biology and iGEM in the Gui Huashan Building, Xiamen University on July 17th afternoon. The whole activity included three parts——synthetic biology exhibition, game and the Bio Bang cards presentation. To help the participants learn synthetic biology is a challenging but attractive process. These high school students could enjoy the interests in science and technology, know the knowledge about biology and think over ethics in life science through our activities.

We ushered the students to our conference theatre, having them participate in any activities they are interested in and giving them attracting presents. We also gave every participant our badge. The synthetic biology exhibition was composed by some display boards including knowledge of synthetic biology, program display on iGEM, biological safety and genetic engineering. Some information and pictures were from iGEM wiki. We made this exhibition following the lecture to improve our HP effects.

Campus fair game was the most important part in order to enhance the interest and improve the popularization of knowledge of biosafety via playing. It was just like a lively and learning garden party which was composed with three parts—Riddles written on lanterns,Foldit computer games and finding the differences between DNA molecules.

In the first game, we find some riddles about gene and biology and wrote them on lanterns. Most riddles were related to basic knowledge of biosafety and lab skills. If the participant could find the answer then he would win a prize. Foldit, a computer game loved by the high school students since they can learn from entertainment, folds proteins and tests their stabilities with four people competing in it. Finding the differences between DNA molecules, is to find two or three differences between two analogous DNA pictures. From this game participants could be aware of DNA structure more deeply and practice their precision. We accumulated every students’ points and the final top 10 won the prize.

Our special prize is the cards——Bio Bang, which was inspired by War Within Three Kingdoms, which are very popular in China. And only those who were top 10 on the scoring list could get one deck. Some high school students even play the cards with our plain guidance, making us think it’s an interesting and enjoyable game. Participants hoped that we could send them more cards and give them designing pictures. From this game we had a better interaction. More details are in the next section.

Finally, our team organized a special interaction for these high school students. We show them our culture strains so that they can get close to real germiculture out of lab. Of course we’ve paid much attention on biosafety and no potential damage to the environment or public occurred.

After the campus fair games as well as the exhibition, these senior high school students signed on our whiteboard and had a group photo taken with us at our request. We made informal interviews with some of them and get a satisfactory feedback. They wished we could hold the activities next year and they would try their best to popularize synthetic biology and iGEM. A student, from Shaowu No.1 Middle School of Fujian, expressed his hope that we could come to their hometown to help people in the countryside to get a correct understanding of genetic engineering. As I know, some people even regard transgenosis as poisons. This is also our hope that more and more people can learn something about transgenic products via this competition and have a better understanding of genetic engineering. After all, we, as iGEMers, should not only do experiments in laboratory, but also help synthetic biology understood by the public.


It’s a great honor for me to introduce our attractive “byproduct”——Bio Bang. We designed these special card for these high school students who were the top ten on our scoring list. These sets of cards——we called them Bio Bang——were inspired by War Within Three Kingdoms, which are very popular in China,just like Bang! in America. It consists of abundant role-relationship and mutual promotion and restraint between every cards. The Bio Bang is themed with synthetic biology, including genetic engineering experiments, biological materials and equipment. We’ve also assimilate knowledge of biosafety into these set of cards in order to popularize knowledge of biosafety in lab, public and environment. This kind of propaganda tool is very useful to make different knowledge about genetic engineering and biology get across to high school students. Some examples of them are shown as follows:

We’ve dreamed about perfecting the rules and designing and sold it out to raise money for our project. But it didn’t come true owing to our tight schedule. However, we decided to make a English version Bio Bang as presents for other iGEMers. Just wait for us coming!


Surveys on The Popularization of Synthetic Biology and iGEM in high school students of Fujian Province

Our team conducted a synthetic biology survey before our lecture entitled "Contemporary introduction to synthetic biology". We wanted to compare how much they knew about synthetic biology and iGEM before the lecture with what they learn from our presentation in order to assess our work. We’ve prepared 300 questionnaires and hand out 227 of them. Among these drew-back questionnaires, 180 of them are valid. We put 11 questions on the questionnaire as below.

1. Have you ever heard about synthetic biology before our lecture?
2. If you have, in which way it was accessible to you?
3. Which parts do you think are the most intriguing about synthetic biology after our lecture?
4. Have you ever heard about iGEM before our lecture?
5. If you have, in which way it was accessible to you?
6. Are you willing to participate in iGEM after our lecture?
7. If your answer is no, why?
8. What’s your reason for participation, why?
9. If you participate in iGEM in which aspects do you want to get supports?
10. How much time can you spend on iGEM?
11. If you participate, you and your family are willing to afford in which aspects?
Some survey results are shown as below:


Two major findings have been obtained from this analysis.

First of all, we drew a conclusion that almost everyone learned a lot from our lecture although they tended to be unfamiliar about the details of synthetic biology. Comparing the number of people who know about iGEM and the number of people who are willing to participate in iGEM, we think the number of people who are interested in iGEM increases nearly 60%. Just look at the reasons why they don’t want to participate, most people chose no time and no supports. Only few people claimed that they were not interested in it and far less people said they didn’t like biology at all. Considering that our high school students are under so much pressure from National College Entrance Examination and some high school are too poor to afford technologies and apparatus, our results indicated a really good reality that almost everyone was willing to accept this new science and technology.

Second, as for how to popularize iGEM and synthetic biology, we summarize two points.

On the one hand, popularizing iGEM and synthetic biology via internet can reach a good effect because nearly half of these high school students said they heard iGEM and synthetic biology from the internet. We all think wiki is really a good platform to popularize synthetic biology and communicate with other iGEMers. What’s more, publishing more books relating to synthetic biology and iGEM is also a good conduit to let synthetic biology and iGEM known by other people, especially the young.

On the other hand, teachers and parents seem to have difficulties in accepting a new technology in China or in the whole world so that students can’t learn some interesting and impressive new science and technologies from adults. It’s very common in China but we, as a new generation, should try our best to realize the rapid changing of our society.

Future plans

Finally we drew some conclusion to improve our survey next time. In order to obtain results that are more valid we should launch a more widely circulated survey. In addition, perhaps more copies can be distributed at random to the general public. On the other hand, it’s really important to make an effective and smart questionnaire to get a more cogent result. Maybe we can make two kinds of questionnaire to hand out before and after the lecture to compare to get a better conclusion.

Theme Fresco

Besides those activities related to synthetic biology we’ve mentioned above, we assisted XMU_Software in finishing a theme fresco in Furong Tunnel.

Furong Tunnel can be said to be the most attractive scenery of Xiamen University, visited by more than 30,000 people per day statistically. We made this work in consideration of its attractiveness, which can greatly help us to popularize not only synthetic biology and iGEM but also our team. In fact, many students witnessed the fresco, maybe called doodles more appropriately, made by iGEMers from Xiamen University. Some of them took photos and asked us about iGEM. It improved a good interaction between our team and these students and tourists to popularize iGEM competition and synthetic biology.



We collaborated with Purdue iGEM team to create a definitive characterization standard for the parts registry. All the teams participated required to fill out a survey which was about the important items in the registry page. Purdue iGEM team worked out a standard protocol which contains all of the details. The other teams need to complete it better or put forward some questions and problems. To make this work easy, we had a video meeting with the Purdue iGEM team and USP Brazil team through the GOOGLE HANGOUTS. It really helped us to exchange the opinions just like face to face.

As we know, the members of this collaboration are currently over 50 teams so that it is the biggest collaboration in the iGEM history. We feel awesome about what we did!


On April 5th, 2013, Haoqian Zhang, advisors of Peking University iGEM team, a famous iGEMer who is keeping on developing synthetic biology and iGEM in China, came to Xiamen University in purpose of strengthening collaborations our two universities. During his visiting, Mr. Zhang took part in discussions between our two teams, XMU- Software and XMU-China 2013 and gave some good advice focusing on the feasibility,security,advantages and disadvantages of ideas raised by our team members. His words about teamwork were very impressive and educational. Finally, Mr. Zhang simply showed some interesting projects in the past as well as encouraged us all to try our best to perform this year's iGEM projects.


From the June 24th to the June 29th, We provided parts BBa_C0061 and BBa_I0462 to the Toulouse iGEM team due to the high transform difficulty they described using this year’s distribution. Toulouse could directly use them for their cloning ,while we got some valuable feedback about our parts.


On the summer vacation, we drew a doodle about 2013 iGEM in Furong tunnel in the campus with the members of software team of our university. This tunnel is not only a main stem but also a famous scenic spots, so that more than 30,000 people per day will pass by and look our doodle. In addition, the doodle is a quite novel approach to introduce synthetic biology and we believe that no team did it before.

We also held a garden party with software team where introduced iGEM and synthetic biology to 200 students of senior high school from the whole Fujian Province. Go to page…to see more

In the wet lab, we helped them to structure their plasmids, such as teaching how to ligate and digest.


We've also had a really good communication with the iGEM team of Peking University. From August 11th to August 19th ,one of our team members went to Peking University to get a deep cooperation with them. Firstly we introduced our own project in this year and exchanged the opinions .They gave us some good suggestions in experiments and models. What’s more, they gave us one BioBrick of sfGFP (pSB1A3-RBS-sfgfp-TT), which gave a great help to our structure. This sfGFP allowed our circuit to generate a brighter fluorescence and made it easier to observe in the microfluidics.


We had a short meeting with 4 members of NJU iGEM team visiting us on June24th, 2013. We welcomed all other visitors as well. During the meeting, we introduced our project this year to these visitors and exchanged some opinions with them. It can improve the connection and collaboration between different iGEM teams in China.


We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all those who helped XMU-China2013 during this year. Without your help we couldn’t complete this project successfully. Some pieces of our appreciation are as follows.

Team XMU-Software, the dry lab team of our university. Thank you for giving us so much help on wiki and modeling.

Graduates in Lab 571,Lab 580 and Lab 117, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering , especially Chiming Ye, Tingting Chen, Yu Zhang, Nan Wang and Jing Guo. Without your experimental guidance we couldn't manage to finish the whole project.

Prof. Hasty and his student Arthur Prindle, Department of Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California. Thank you for your patient and warm reply to our questions.

Prof. Po Ting Chen from Taiwan shared his rich experience of molecular biology to us and provided E. coli BL21 (wide type) generously. Thanks for your kindness. Prof. Ningshao Xia and his graduates, School of Life Sciences, Xiamen University, for providing us equipment and experimental guidance on electroporation.

Prof. Shoufa Han, Department of Chemistry, Xiamen University, for providing us fluorescence microplate reader and his students for experimental and equipment guidance.

Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences for providing us MALDI-TOF-MS.

Fujian Chemical Society and Prof. Yihui Chen. It's very kind of you to give us great support in Human Practice.

College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. You've got our six.

Xiamen University Academic Administration. Thank you for supporting us.

High school students from all over Fujian Province taking part in our Human Practice. Without your great support we couldn't make a successful Human Practice.

Peking iGEM 2013. Thanks for your sfGFP and some pieces of advice. If not we couldn't finish our work.

Finally, again we’d like to express our heartfelt appreciation to all these kindness and enthusiasm. Thank you. Thanks for your self-giving helps.

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