As part of our human practices our team decided that we would participate in a presentation at a high school in the Indianapolis area. Franklin Central is the alma mater of one of our team members, Justin Mader. Justin, being the secretary of the team, reached out to his old AP Biology teacher Mr. Osterman, who was very interested in the opportunity for his high school students to learn about synthetic biology and iGEM. When creating the presentation, there were three key elements that we knew that we wanted covered in this presentation, and that was the introduction of synthetic biology, and brief overview of our research, and lab safety tips.

Justin Mader and Holly Cox presenting to the AP Biology class at Franklin Central High School.

The day we decided to schedule the presentation for would be the 5th of October. Being a day in the middle of the week we knew that our entire team could not go to this presentation. We all check our schedules and we figured out that only Justin Mader and Holly Cox could attend. Having a small two man team meant that the presentation had to be broken up into two chunks. It was decided that Justin would introduce synthetic biology and the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 2016 iGEM team’s research, while Holly would cover the safety portion of the presentation.

Once Justin and Holly arrived at the school they were greeted by Mr. Osterman in the front office where they received their visitors badges. While walking to the classroom the team explained to Mr. Osterman what exactly our presentation was going to be covering. He was also very interested in the research which Holly and Justin explained to him on the way to the classroom. Once inside we patiently waited for the students to file into the classroom. As they walked in there was looks of confusion, but also looks of excitement. Mr. Osterman introduced us to the class and the presentation began.

A group photo of the entire class.

During the presentation was the best part as both Holly and Justin could see the kids face light up with both intrigue and confusion. As the team neared the end of the presentation they took time to answer any of the questions that the high school students had. This was a good time to test the knowledge of the team, but was also a good time to share college experiences. Some of the kids seemed genuinely interested in the research side of biology which is one of the reasons the team wanted to give this presentation. The goals were met of not only spreading the word of synthetic biology, but to also emphasize safety and answer any questions the kids had. This was a successful trip and in the future I hope that teams can visit more schools and give the same type of presentation.

Synthetic Biology Club Founding

This year the RHIT iGEM team took it upon themselves to found a new club at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology that focuses on teaching curious students about Synthetic Biology. This club will invite students of all majors and will feature seminars, academic debates, and the potential to brainstorm for the next years iGEM project. After filling out all the necessary paperwork the club gained interest through an activities fair that Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology hosts at the beginning of every year. The club President Holly Cox hopes to grow this club and cement a tradition of bringing synthetic biology to the students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

The logo for the RHIT Synthetic Biology Club.