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We briefly made a survey about iGEM-HS in Beijing and went to The Second High School attached to Beijing Normal University (SHSBNU) to know more about high school students. We realized that the students have little knowledge about Synthetic Biology and iGEM.


In 2009 AAAS Forum, the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Susan Hockfield, told the Science & Technology Policy that a third revolution in the life sciences is fostered. The third revolution, known as Synthetic Biology, springing from convergence between physical and biological sciences, serves to promote human life to a new level, just like the development of industries in the early 20th century. In 2011, the Chinese government even incorporated the research of Synthetic Biology into The 973 Plan, aiming to establish new methods of synthesizing bio-based materials.

An emerging subject calls for more intelligent and lively minds gathering together to generate new ideas. In fact, the development of Synthetic Biology is benefited from international Genetically Engineering Machine (iGEM) competition, which gathers undergraduates and even secondary school students worldwide to propose and validate ideas with considerable potential. President Hockfield said, it is clear that students of the current generation are extremely comfortable with the idea of pursuing research that crosses different boundaries of the sciences and engineering, and should be encouraged to be "bilingual" across disciplines.

Therefore, this year 2012, with the Beijing Teenager Science & Technology Club as our ally, the Peking iGEM team has decided to gather genius secondary school students together, motivate them to study Synthetic Biology, and guide them towards future participation in the iGEM HS-division competition.

Pre-investigation on high school students in Beijing

Based on our goal, we briefly made a survey on the situation of Beijing High School's participation in the iGEM HS Division. For 2012 iGEM HS Division, there were only 2 Beijing High School teams (out of 3 Chinese teams) participating in the competition. Unfortunately, neither of them insisted on finishing their projects. Thus, we considered to know more about the Beijing high school students in the first place. (According to Figure 1)

Figure 1. Number of Teams Participated in iGEM HS-Division

Figure 1. From the year 2011, the high school division was enlisted as one of the three main components of iGEM competition every year, with only 7 teams participated. In 2012, over 40 high school teams worldwide took part in the HS-Division contest, out of which there were only 3 Chinese teams, whose performance was below average, due to lack of support and experience. We could anticipate that there might be over 100 HS teams across the world participating the competition in 2013, as well as more Chinese teams. Thus, it is necessary to promote the awareness of SB and iGEM among high school students.

Survey on participation for the iGEM HS-Division.

In early May, several of our team members went to The Second High School attached to Beijing Normal University, one of the top high schools in Beijing. We visited the school Molecular Biology Laboratory, took photos and had a chat with the lab manager and the principal's secretary.

Figure 2. Pre-investigation Visit High School

Figure 2. In early May, several of our team members went to The Second High School attached to Beijing Normal University and visited the school molecular lab.

In fact, most of high schools in Beijing have been equipped with sophisticated devices enabling students to implement experiments in their spare time. However, not only the students have little knowledge about Synthetic Biology and iGEM, but also they have no academic support towards their experiments, as the teachers said.

Figure 3. Pre-investigation Visit High School

Figure 3. The Pipettors in the SHSBNU molecular lab.

Therefore, according to the situation, we decided firstly to promote the high school students' awareness of Synthetic Biology, then to discover and solve the problems that limited their participation in iGEM, and finally to guide them toward future engagement in this grand international Jamboree.

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