Revision as of 20:02, 26 September 2012 by Shrine (Talk | contribs)


We constructed a survey comparing the iGEM-HS participation in Beijing, in China, and in the world. We also went to The Second High School attached to Beijing Normal University (SHSBNU) to learn more about the high school students and their interests and knowledge in synthetic biology. This helped us realize that these students have little prior knowledge of synthetic biology and the iGEM competition, which directed our futher actions.


As presented in the 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 has been fostered. This revolution, known as synthetic biology, sprang from convergence between physical and biological sciences, and 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 in the field of synthetic biology into The 973 Plan, aiming to establish new methods of synthesizing bio-based materials.

An emerging field calls for more intelligent and lively minds to gather together in generating new ideas and discovering new possibilities. In fact, the development of synthetic biology benefits greatly from the international Genetically Engineering Machine (iGEM) competition, which gathers undergraduates, and even secondary school students worldwide to propose and validate ideas that have considerable potential. As President Hockfield said, it is clear that students of the current generation are extremely comfortable with the idea of pursuing research that crosses the different boundaries of science and engineering, and they should definitely be encouraged to be "bilingual" across disciplines.

Therefore, with the newfound alliance with the Beijing Teenager Science & Technology Club, the Peking 2012 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 participation in the iGEM high school division of high schools based in Beijing. For the 2012 high school competition, there were only two Beijing high school teams (out of three Chinese teams) participating in the competition. Unfortunately, neither of them insisted on finishing their projects. Thus, we needed to know more about the Beijing high school students in the first place (see Figure 1).
PDF Survey on participation for the iGEM HS-Division.

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.

Early in May, several of our team members made a trip to the Second High School attached to Beijing Normal University, one of the top high schools in Beijing. We visited the school’s 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 the high schools in Beijing have been equipped with sophisticated devices and equipment enabling students to implement experiments in their spare time. As the teachers have said, not only do the students have little prior knowledge about synthetic biology and iGEM, but also they do not have full academic support for their experiments.

Figure 3. Pre-investigation Visit High School

Figure 3. The Pipettors in the SHSBNU molecular lab.

According to the situation, the 2012 Peking iGEM team has decided to promote high school students' awareness of synthetic biology. We then vouched to discover and solve the problems that limited their participation in iGEM. Finally, we looked for ways to guide these students towards future engagement in this grand international Jamboree.

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