Team:Kyoto/Policy and Practice


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Policy & Practice

Our Questions

Last year iGEM Kyoto decided to continue our popularization activities of synthetic biology as human practice projects. One of the major social problems we found in our society was people's lack of knowledge about biotechnology. The lack of knowledge causes unreasonable fear of genetic modifications and insufficient discussions about biosafety. This could be causing more serious problems, such as ignorance of ethics and safety concerning biotechnology.

As our annual popularization activity, we held a poster session open to the public at our school festival in 2013. After the session some of the audience told us, "Before we listened to the explanations, I was totally unfamiliar with synthetic biology and had a negative image on it from its name, but now I find your works and synthetic biology very interesting." Through this session we learned how little synthetic biology was known to the public, and that even short explanations could give them a positive image on it.

Facing these situations, we doubted our activities only in universities, and felt that we needed to introduce new ways of popularization. To get started with the new attempt, we set our question as below; how can we interact with people outside of the university who are not in the scientific society?

Our Approach

When we started considering new methods, we found that there was little occasion to hold a presentation in front of a considerable number of people, and that this was the main cause of the problem. We knew from the past activities that when we could have the opportunities to talk to the people, just simple explanations about synthetic biology would be enough to let them interested in it.

Thus we decided to have more occasions for such presentations. We first targeted high school students as the audience because we can get considerable number of people. Therefore we planned some visits to local high schools. By visiting high schools we also aimed to introduce them into our biological fields and to enlarge our group in the future. At the first high school we visited (Zeze high school in Shiga prefecture), we explained about synthetic biology, about iGEM, and about our activities in 2013. We also had a presentation about our project in 2013 in front of the students who would major scientific subjects. After the presentations some students got interested in iGEM high school and visited our laboratory. This led us to be convinced of the effectiveness of our new method, but we also realized that in this way we can spread synthetic biology only to a limited number of people, as it would be difficult for us to organize such events at the places far from Kyoto. There would also be limits for us when we have to visit a high school each time for popularization. We hoped to spread our educational programs all over Japan, not only locally.

Thus, as the next approach, we decided to make booklets about synthetic biology and distribute them in Japanese high schools. We purposed that these booklets would let them interested in synthetic biology and help them understand overall concept of it. In making the booklets, we made it a point that there would be as few technical terms as possible while explaining how interesting biology is, how genes work to affect biological activities, and how we can manipulate them. We also added the explanations about our projects in 2012 in order to give an example. The booklets contain many pictures and illustrations so that students can understand the contents more easily. For students who want to learn more for themselves, we made a list of the books we recommend and wrote a short review for each book.

Before distributing we asked Mr. Takada, a teacher of High School Attached to Kyoto University of Education, for some comments on the booklets. He mentioned, "I find it good that there are many photos and cute illustrations in the booklets. In this way they would be much easier to understand. I also think it is really good that subtitles and main contents are written in the style of questions. This would let even students who are not much interested in science willing to read the booklet."

As these comments suggest, our approach can surely attribute science education. At the same time, making the booklets brought a positive effects to our works as well. It made us re-realize what synthetic biology is, and helped us keep motivated to work for our project.

Through this approach, we reached an answer to our question. We can play a leading role in making closer the scientific society and the people outside of the society. When we can do it, we should do it.

In order to widespread our approach, we make our booklets open to the public through iGEM websites. It would be our pleasure if they could help you with your activities as well.

If you want to utilize our booklet, please visit HERE.


As described above, we learned already that teaching at high schools is an effective approach. We decided to continue this in parallel with giving out our booklets. We have not started distributing them yet, and we are planning to do it first at the High School Attached to Kyoto University of Education as a trial. Then we will add modifications to them according to the feedbacks from the students. After that we will contact the Kyoto City Board of Education and ask them to give out the booklets in all of the high schools in Kyoto city.

Human Practice

School festival of Kyoto University

Nov. 2013

Our University has a school festival called NF. This is one of the biggest events in our university and many people from all around Japan visit it. This year, we told our activity contents and our project of the last year to those who came to our school festival by poster session.

Kansai area exchange meeting

Mar. 2014

We joined the assembly which 5 universities located around Kansai area took part in, and each team presented their project and talked with other teams' members.

School festival of the University of Tokyo

Jun. 2014

We participated in the school festival at the Univ. of Tokyo and explained our project to people who came there with other teams by the posters.

iGEM Japan fellowship

Aug. 2014

In August we joined the iGEM Japan assembly and our team and other teams presented the projects with each other. We also talked with other teams' members.

Attending to the Genetics Society of Japan

Sep. 2014

In September we took part in the Genetics Society of Japan, and held a workshop about the synthetic Biology. Each team made a presentation.