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Volunteer teaching

Creativity arises from unrestrained imagination as well as detailed observations. We all know that children usually possess great creativity due to their eager in exploring unknown things and less constrains from scant experience. Unfortunately this precious asset of creativity decreases seriously as they grow up, especially under current China’s education system which features rote learning.

So we want to cultivate children’ love and desire in exploring to the nature, which mostly turns to be living creatures they are familiar with. These spirits will be useful for their life especially when they chase a career in science. This summer, we, several members of Fudan-Lux iGEM team, together with undergraduate students from other departments, held a volunteer teaching project in Jiangxi province Yunfang experimental elementary school. Courses in life science and basic scientific experiments are part of the volunteer teaching curriculum design for third and fourth grade students. By doing this science teaching and enlightening, we expect that they can keep their perception keen and always be filled with curiosity about life science.

We provided both courses and experiments to full fill our goals. The courses are divided into three parts: observe living creatures, ask a question, try to solve the question. In the first part “observe living creatures”, we tried to lead children develop a detailed and inquisitive way in observation. Children were encouraged to share the animal or plant that they thought interesting or amazing. At first, many of them listed animals like lion, giraffe or plants like flycatcher. Obviously these creatures are the typically amazing ones, but we hope them to explore amazing aspects of ordinary creature. We gave an example of dog’s keen smell to stimulate their thinking. Then one student stood up and said he thinks it is interesting that almost all leaves are green. And other students started to share their unique observations in normal creatures. In the second part “ask a question”, we promoted students to ask a question that they are curious about based on their observation. Lots of inspiring questions such as “why fish can breathe in water”, ”how can trees produce fruits” were given. All of these questions are based on their careful observation and analytical thinking in daily life. In the third part, we directed childrento solve these problems in a scientific way. A selected question was used as an example. We told them how to devise experiments and the rules they need to follow such as set controls in an experiment. Though these logically continuous three classes, spirits of careful observation, active thinking and thorough analysis were developed.

In the experiment classes, three basic as well as interesting experiments were conducted which are aimed at cultivating students’ manipulative ability and passion in exploring scientific issues. The three experiments are purification of muddy water using chemical and physical methods, generation and characters of static electricity, pH-value measurement of familiar liquids using pH test papers. Theories behind these experiments were given in order to help students’ understanding. We had provided enough materials as well as facilities and every student was guaranteed to have access to these experiments. Every student showed great interests in doing these experiments and they even cooperated with their classmates to get a better outcome. By conducting these experiments, students found the happiness and meaning in doing experiments and their skills in experiments are developed.

During the several days of volunteer teaching, we have found students’ passions and curiosities toward the great nature, toward living creatures besides them. Also, these students learned some valuable ideas and ways of thinking by our work. It’s our duty and responsibility to help them maintain interests in science and also guide them to explore these miracles in a scientific way. This volunteer project will be a long-term project, we hope through we iGEMers’ devotions and dedication, more and more students can benefit from this project.


Sir Richard John Roberts (1943/09/06—) who was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Phillip Allen Sharp for the discovery of introns in eukaryotic DNA and the mechanism of gene-splicing, is a famous British biochemist and molecular biologist. As the chief scientist of NEB company, he visited Fudan University on July 13th and discussed with our team members about our projects. After listening to our presentation, he talked a lot about future applications and potential values of our project. In the meantime, he also pointed out several problems and gave us some advices on the spot. Our group members discussed with Sir Richard about our designs, ideas, and feasibility on that noon. Although it was just an hour, we still find it extremely helpful and meaningful to have this talk. We were much more aware of the advantages and drawbacks according to Richard’s advices. Furthermore, NEB company showed certain interest to our project and provided us a series of enzymes as sponsorship. In the following days, we still contacted with NEB company about our experimental procedures and enzyme utilizing. Through this communication, we got a great progress in our projects.

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