Team:CSU Fort Collins/HP/Silver

Human Practices

Building with Biology - Larimer County Farmer’s Market

This year we decided to approach human practices in a different manner. We decided that we wanted to get more involved with the public and see how we could use our project to address stigmas about synthetic biology. While attending the 2015 iGEM Jamboree, we learned about an interesting opportunity to apply for a Building with Biology kit. Developed by the Museum of Science, the Building with Biology kit is a part of the Building with Biology public engagement with science endeavor, where scientists and the public communicate about science and engage in mutual learning. Building with Biology is funded by a National Science Foundation grant.

We were fortunate to receive a Building with Biology kit and we brought this educational tool to the Larimer County farmer’s market. We engaged people of all ages and walks of life, and introduced them to synthetic biology concepts through hands on activities. These hands on activities provided an ideal method for demonstration that segued smoothly into explanations and discussion about the scientific principles behind the activities. The DNA extraction activity seemed to have the greatest impact on fairgoers. Watching people experience revelations about cells, their membrane structure, and how DNA fits into it all was an amazing experience for us all.

It’s important for scientific outreach to not only target those who already have an interest in science. How else will people find out if they have an interest in science? Our outreach will have been a success if even one of these events occurs because of our farmer’s market booth: someone discovers a lifelong love for science, someone develops an interest in scientific applications to their current work, someone develops an interest in scientific developments, someone has an interesting dinner conversation, or someone enters a career in science that leads to at least one person’s life being improved or saved.

Casey conversing with Farmer's market patron

Kevin leading a DNA extraction experiment