Based on our interviews with Prof. Shoubing Wang and Dr. Fangfang Zheng, we’ve learned that cyanobacteria does have a certain negative impact on human health, but due to the lack of public engagement, most people might not have realized the harm of it and some even do not know what cyanobacteria is. Also according to our interview with managers from the Waterworks in Fengxian, Shanghai, we’ve noticed that the amount of cyanobacteria in water is not listed as one of the major indicators when testing the quality of tap water. Thus, we saw the necessity of enhancing public awareness toward this issue.
Our first step was to establish a WeChat Official Account named Cyanobarrier to introduce some basic knowledge to our audience and how we did the research and experiment. Our purpose of establishing this official account was to engaging the public and to notifying more people online of this minor bur severe issue. We had our articles uploaded almost every single day, and the number of followers was also increasing at the same time, turning out that there were still lots of people caring about the negative effect cyanobacteria brought to our environment and health.
We also held our first public engagement event at Xuhui Central Hospital on July 27th. By printing our own brochure and flyers, we wanted to better introduce ourselves, display our project and further bring this issue into public awareness. Many people scanned our QR code and followed our official WeChat account, and some even shared our articles with their friends and families. We were glad to see that after our explanation and introduction, more people learned about the harm of cyanobacteria as well as the significance of our project.
On July 29th, we held a knowledge competition during our fundraising at Lujiazui. We selected some questions from our past contents and we also give the winner a 100-yuan Starbucks gift card as a prize because we wanted to encourage our followers to thoroughly understand cyanobacteria and when they had the chance, to also share our project with more people as well.
Hospital announcement: (Xuhui Central Hospital)
For some patients and nurses in the hospital, we decided to introduce the concepts of cyanobacteria and how microcystic toxins endangered our environment and human’s health because most of them have already suffered from the illness that caused by the microcystic toxins. To attract public attention to the microcystic toxin, we gave them our brochures and some gifts if they were willing to know more about our topic. During the conversation with our audience and patients there, more and more people followed our WeChat Official Account. At the same time, they also spread more information about microcystic toxin to their relatives.
Fengxian District Waterworks 7/22
(In order to learn how official and professional institutions treat cyanobactaria, we decided to hold an interview with managers from the Waterworks at Fengxian, Shanghai, which produces 400,000 tons every single day, consumed by 300,000 populations.
We learned from the interview that, the water plant does not pay special attention to the harm of cyanobacteria and does not frequently monitor the amount of algae toxin content in water.
The plant is currently using activated carbon to filter all kinds of microcystins in water, which is an effective while expensive means. According to the managers, Waterworks at Fengxian, Shanghai has been experiencing huge loss for many years, but since water is an inelastic demand that is also managed by the government, it’s impossible to raise the price, thus the managers were also somehow concerned about the current situation of the plant.
In this case we introduced the project and our method to them and in response, they said that if we could finally invent a device that effectively removes cyanobacteria as well as other bacteria and if we could keep the price of that device lower than activated carbon, we will significantly improve their situation and even the quality of tap water.
WeChat Official Account
Besides these public engagement resorts, we also employ Wechat, the most popular social networking tool in China to promote our activity. We send 18 articles totally, hoping that the public may pay more attention to cyanobacteria, as well as our paths to mitigate the problem. In our articles, we incorporate information about cyanobacteria (its definition, classifications, harms, merits, etc.). We gain more than 150 subscribers in 2 weeks and more than 650 views from a single article. The public is now more aware of the potential danger of cyanobacteria, and is willing to support our activities by sharing our contents with their friends.