Team:UFAM-UEA Brazil/HumanPractices/IgemAcademy

iGEM Academy: from kindergarten to grad students

At schools

The traditional high school in Brazil has no synthetic biology as content required to be taught in science class. With that in mind, we planned a cycle of lectures to high school students with the proposal to provide the direct contact with this new science field.

So, on 05/27, we started, in a school in the city of Manaus-AM to explain, the basic concepts of the SynBio topic, and of course all with a lot of fun! The visits were composed as followed:

After everyone introduced, a questionnaire was applied with three questions for each student, in order to generate data about the scenario of synthetic biology in schools.

After the questions, we talk for about 10 minutes, dealing with the following themes:

After the theoretical presentation, we started the practical activities and exhibitions, showing how it is possible to reach the proposed models for the genetic bio-construction project and a bio-accumulator. See how it happen:


First, we made a plasmid model using neon bracelets, each bracelet representing a gene;

The green bracelet represented the GFP gene and the blue one symbolized the regulated promoter and the mercury transporter protein;

The bacteria model had a simple circuit, made by LED lamps, whose poles were turned to the outer side and a polystyrene sphere with a battery inside to represent Mercury (Hg). The battery’s pole were also turned to the outer side too. When the sphere’s pole leaned on fake bacteria poles - which received the plasmid containing mercury transporter proteins - the lights were on!!!

At the end, students were split into teams and participate in a fun competition. The intention was to observe what was learned by the students and, at this point, surpass any wrong ideas and/or doubts about any of the topics discussed. Students were motivated to participate employing creative techniques and we also offered small prizes for the winning teams.

After 6 months of gathering information, we clustered and analyzed data, and documented in graphics. The sampled total was 111 students, aged between 14 and 16 years, students of public schools of the State of Amazonas. As expected, the results obtained showed the scarce knowledge about the synbio. Below are the results:

Science Olympic Games

The Science olympic games had it’s planning started on November of 2015. The biggest difficulty was to find an institution bold enough to face this challenge with us. Eventually, we found the perfect one: Saint Dorothea’s school, which has been more than opened to the proposition since the beginning.

The olympic games consisted on a series of stations, where in each one of them had a different activity, so everybody could enjoy it. In total, 151 students participated, divided on two big groups of at most 90 students of all the high school years.

The activity was perfomed in the school’s gymnasium, check out the stations’ disposition and the team’s rotativity:

However, after all, what were the stations?

The teams accumulated points that, at the end, would be added up to calculate the big winner. The activities that the students should perform were the stations, each one with a different approuch, like Mercury contamination in the Amazon, health, synthetic biology and the genetical constructions of the team. See the description of every station more detailed:

And who guided the students during all the activities? Our beloved volunteers! We gathered 20 people and went straight to the games!

The volunteers were divided in: coordinators, monitors, collaborators, evaluators and guides, each one with a specific function.

The groups were distributed between the classes A and B from the school. After all the teams had fun at the stations and learned about SynBio and the mercury problem in our region... roll the drums! The winning teams were:

We were extremely pleased with the team’s results, with the students’ testimony and mainly from learning in a different way with more than 150 students, with entertainment and excitement!

We thank all who contributed to the execution of the activity. And our special acknowledgement to the school’s biology teacher, Rebeca Vale, an incredible professional who gave us a warm welcome, participated in the organization and ran with the students during the activities!

Collaborator Rebeca Vale’s statement:

The partnership with iGem team UFAM/UEA, was personally very exciting. From a visit to the School to discuss the implementation of an activity, came an exchange of ideas and the possibility of much greater partnerships.

Link to PDF

At college

Lectures about Synbio:

We had some opportunities to speak to students from different courses of biological field. In these lectures, we introduced Synbio to the audience, presenting it as an instrument with a wide range of application that holds a great potential to deal with the world’s problems. We also talked about iGem as an international Synbio competition which intends to blend engineering principles with biological systems, and that cherishes projects with some social impact. At the I SEMCIENTEC (First Academic Week of Natural Sciences and Biotechnology), we spoke to an audience of biology, natural sciences, biotechnology, pharmaceutical sciences and related fields students. Some members of our team also compose the Academic Center of Biotechnology Students at Federal University of Amazonas, and they spoke to the freshmen in the first semester of 2016 at IV Colloquium of Biotechnology. We also helped in genetic engineering classes, organizing practical lessons with our biobricks, as you can see below. Our team is mainly composed by Biotechnology students since its beginning, and we hope that by addressing students that just entered this field they can be amazed by Synbio and love it as much as we do.