“Human practice is the study of how your work affects the world, and how the world affects your work.” In our Human Practice section this year, we aimed to share what we know with our community as well as listen to what they think. We collected information about the current situation about our project topic and people’s current knowledge about it, and we also spread our findings and knowledge to different groups of people via various methods. It’s always worth it to step out of labs and reach out to the society around us. See what we have done!
Public Survey of Awareness of Aniline Pollution
At the beginning of our human practice efforts, we wished to acquire first-hand information regarding the public’s current knowledge of pollution causes and synthetic biology approach. So we designed a questionnaire to help us understand different age groups’ knowledge regarding different kinds of pollution, bioremediation treatment approaches, and aniline, the main cause of pollution that we are working on. To cover different age groups, we conducted the survey in schools, in Xuanwu Lake (a popular public park), and online via social media. Results showed that although people are concerned about soil and water pollution, they are generally not quite familiar with their cause or treatment, and most of the respondents didn’t know about aniline compounds. With that information on hand, we could know more specifically what to share in our subsequent HP activities.
School Science Fair and Regular Club Activities
Our survey showed that a great portion of students in our school weren’t familiar with the concept of bioremediation and its great potential in the future. So we took advantage of the school science fair and shared our project findings to teachers as well as our fellow classmates. We also took the opportunity to familiarize them with the concepts of bioremediation and synthetic biology, and how the two fields could interact. Our presentation received good feedback from students and teachers, so we did it again for Junior high students in our school.
We also organized small discussion sessions among interested high school students, sharing our new knowledge about the synthetic biology discipline among our club members. Our topic ranged from advance in biotechnology to ethical and socio-economic issues that may be influenced by such advance.
Besides holding presentations and seminars within our own school community, we thought it would be a great idea to spread our knowledge to people outside our age group. Accordingly, we went to Chibi Road Primary School and gave a lecture. Considering our audience’s age, we chose to talk about general pollution types and basic knowledge about biology. The lecture was well received and we were proud to arouse the would-be engineers’ interest in biology and environmental science.
This year, to reach out to more people than we did last year, we started to run a WeChat official account (Chinese equivalent to Facebook instant articles). We utilized the platform to update our work progress, conduct online surveys, and share facts and knowledge about iGEM community and synthetic biology. As we didn’t have enough experience in running official accounts before, Team SMS_Shenzhen mentored us about the process and gave us advice on what areas to focus. See some of our updated articles!