Education and Outreach
We decided that our team wanted to reach out to the younger students in our community and educate them on synthetic biology at the most basic level. By putting on several workshops, both at local elementary schools and our own school, we were able to promote scientific thinking at an early age and introduce students to the world of synthetic biology.
7th Grade School Visit
Four team members (Amanda, Katie, Asia, and Brianna) visited a local middle school and taught 60 seventh graders the basics of DNA and synthetic biology. They were able to extract DNA from strawberries using common household products. After this activity, the iGEM team members explained the results and answered the students’ questions. From this discussion period, the group was able to observe the students’ understanding of the project and their varying opinions. The four members asked the students what their thoughts were on the ethics and morals involved in synthetic biology. For a short period, contemporary advances of synthetic biology were discussed, comprising the future growth and possibilities of the rapidly proliferating field of study.
4th Grade School Visit
Team members Asia and Hanaa, visited St. Ignatius of Loyola, an elementary school located in Los Angeles, and worked with their fourth grade class. We provided a free STEM program consisting of various experiments and corresponding lesson plans. Through experimentation the children were able to learn the fundamentals of science. They were excited to share with us their hypotheses, observations, and silly commentary. From this experience, we learned the importance of outreach, and the importance of exposing children to science at a young age.
Synthetic Biology Workshop at Alverno
6-8th Grade students visited our school and team members Asia, Marisa, Hanaa, and Alicia hosted a pipetting and synthetic biology workshop. We did this in order to inform the prospective students about our science department and our iGEM project and lab practices. Each middle school student was equipped with a P20 micropipette, lab coats, gloves, and mock-gels. After a demonstration by one of our teammates, and a brief explanation of how micropipettes are used in the lab, the students then practiced pipetting various volumes of red dye into the practice gels. This practice session was followed with a more in depth presentation of our iGEM project and the importance of synthetic biology.
We have presented and reached out to other science classes at our school, and more students are becoming excited about synthetic biology. Students are interested in the technology and the bioethics involved.