Team:ULaVerne Collab/communityengagement



As part of our community engagement we were fortunate enough be able to educate students at Servite High School in Anaheim, CA and present about synthetic biology and coral bleaching. Servite High School is an all male, Catholic high school that offers biology classes for students ranging from ninth grade to twelfth grade in General Biology, Honors Biology and AP Biology. We were given the opportunity to teach 11 different Biology classes over the course of one day. We began our talk with first handing out a pre-survey that asked general facts about corals and their relationship with marine organisms and humans. The pre-survey also included a series of opinion based questions that asked about how coral bleaching could impact the future. After they completed the pre-survey, we then presented about the importance of corals and how their symbiosis with Symbiodinium is important and how global climate change has led to coral bleaching causing a domino effect on marine life and humans. We followed with a short discussion about how synthetic biology could be a probable solution to the problems presented. We also included a brief description about our research project and how we plan to slow down coral bleaching. We kept the content relatable by describing synthetic biology as what you would see in movies such as Jurassic World using the hybrid dinosaur in the film as an example as well as real life situations with food and environmental problems. After giving our presentation, we concluded with a Q&A, where the students answered question and were able to ask questions, discuss concerns and input about comments they had about how exactly we plan to release these modified organisms into the ocean. Finally, we admitted a post-survey that repeated the same opinion based questions from the pre-survey to see if we were able to change their perspectives on the importance of corals and how synthetic biology can help them. The data was then used to analyze the students’ knowledge on coral reefs and how their opinions on coral bleaching, climate change and genetic engineering could help us think of new ways of discussing the public’s view about synthetic biology. The goal of this community engagement was to educate the public, starting with these students about what is happening to the ocean due to climate change and to see if we were able to effectively communicate our ideas in order to get feedback in places where there might be gaps.