Team:Hong Kong HKUST/human practice/outreach



Our team made an effort to spread the idea of synthetic biology to the community in a somewhat traditional manner as well. We conducted talks and workshop for undergraduate students. In addition to that, we also held similar activities to reach out to high school students, who will be entering university in a near future.


Presentations are one of the most common and effective ways to share information and convey messages. This year, HKUST iGEM Team held two sessions of presentations for the freshmen. One session was conducted on the 26th of September for freshmen from School of Science, and another one was conducted on 13th of October for freshmen from School of Engineering. Through the presentations, we introduced synthetic biology and iGEM, explained briefly about our main project, shared our experiences joining the iGEM competition and encouraged the freshmen to join iGEM in the future. It was good to see students with different intended majors equally participate in the talk, and moreover show their enthusiastic attitude on synthetic biology and iGEM competition.

Fig 1. Science talk


Fig 2. Workshop for college undergraduate science students

To help HKUST students become more familiar with iGEM research activity, we felt that a hands-on laboratory experience would be a very interactive method for them to have a better understanding of synthetic biology. It would be an effective way to get those students introduced to the practical aspect of iGEM research. Therefore, our team organized a workshop on the 7th of October for a group of 15 interested freshmen. This three-hour workshop was divided into two sessions - talk and wet lab. For the talk, our team first explained about the basics of synthetic biology and iGEM, as well as the rough idea of building constructs. We also introduced them to some common experiments in a synthetic biology laboratory. For the wet lab session, the participants were divided into smaller groups and they got to do several experiments such as restriction digestion, gel electrophoresis and beta-galactosidase assay.Through this workshop, we hoped that the participants could gain better insight on both iGEM and synthetic biology. We also wished that in the future, they would continuously explore their interests on both of the above subjects and live up the spirit of synthetic biology.


This year, we had the opportunity to cooperate with an international school in Hong Kong to introduce the idea of synthetic biology to high school students. We had roughly around 30 students from The Independent Schools Foundation Academy (ISF Academy) visiting our school. They were grade 10 students who will be determining their IB subjects in November. The school was eager to expose these students into various areas of studies to allow them to explore their field of interest. Our team’s goal was to introduce these students to synthetic biology as the newly emerging field of in biological study and to give those potential future scientists some inspiration.We delivered a talk to the students introducing the basic concept behind synthetic biology and its real-life applications, as well as the iGEM competition and this year’s project “Finding Pneumo”. We explained the principle behind our construct, and it was pleasing to see the students’ enthusiasm to learn. In fact, we were surprised how much they understood considering they were only grade 10 students in high school! After the talk, we invited students to visit our lab, giving them a look of how a synthetic biology lab in university looks like. Moreover, we prepared a few small lab experiments such as gel electrophoresis and streaking plates for them to try out some hands-on wet lab experience.

Fig 3. Interaction with ISF Academy students

Interacting with these high school students was a lot of fun for our team. We saw their enthusiasm and passion in learning new things. We hoped this workshop would inspire the young generation to pursue and further develop the field of synthetic biology in the future.

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Human Practice