Education and Engagement
Although Alberta hosted many successful iGEM teams over the years, much of that success was not well known in Edmonton. Our team was completely student-run in beginning, having raised the registration fee ourselves as well as finding lab space to perform our experiments. While it did build a lot of character and work ethic, having to build an iGEM team from scratch was very difficult and not ideal for future teams. We wanted to inform the general public and students all over Edmonton about iGEM and the amazing field of Synthetic Biology, in the hopes of inspiring the next generation of iGEM teams and other synthetic biology ventures within Edmonton. UrbanTundra pursued this goal in a variety of ways.
We visited three different middle / elementary schools in the Edmonton area, all in various parts of the city. We performed experiments and team-building exercises, like strawberry DNA extraction and cup-stacking with the students, as well gave introductory presentations on genetics and genetic engineering. Synthetic Biology isn't in the standard Science curriculum of Alberta, and genetics is not introduced until high school. So, for many of the students we presented to, our session with them was their first time hearing about the field of Synthetic Biology. Our campaign's main demographic includes students aged 8 to 14. Our hope was that these students will take interest in genetic engineering as they come into high school, and form iGEM teams of their own.
We were featured in an article in the newspaper the Edmonton Examiner where we discussed the foundation of our team, how we discovered iGEM, what iGEM is, and how we came about our research idea. As well, we explored the implications of our research project and the future of space exploration. This really helped promote our team for our crowdfunding campaign on Experiment.com, and showed people across Edmonton that student-run research initiatives can be successful. Hopefully, this article can bring more awareness to the public about student groups like ours as well the iGEM competition
Click below to read the article!Hoping to help humans live on Mars
We also maintained several social media handles where we promoted our team, as well facts and tidbits about the space industry and Synthetic Biology. Check them out here: