The Pupils Academy
What the pupils academy for synthetic biology is about:
The "6th CeBiTec pupils academy" took place from 24th to 28th of July, 2017. The purpose of this event is to teach synthetic biology and biotechnology to high school students with outstanding grades. This year, 20 highly motivated and interested high school students (six boys and fourteen girls) participated in the pupils academy. The program for the mostly 17-year old students was partitioned into a mixture of theoretical and experimental sections. Lectures about a broad range of topics in synthetic biology and biotechnology were held. Additionally, more interactive and reflective sessions like a discussion about the implications of CRISPR/Cas9 were part of the program. However, main aspects of the academy were the practical courses. These featured topics of synthetic biology, bioinformatics, taxonomic identifications and proteomics. In addition, an introduction into scientific work was given. Furthermore, the pupils academy was accompanied by get-togethers every evening. Pupils got into contact with (under)graduate students, PhD students, and professors.
Our impact on the pupils academy:
The pupils academy was a great opportunity for us to take synthetic biology to high school students. Therefore, we organized all four practical sessions on synthetic biology. Theoretical explanations were integrated into typical experiments from synthetic biology. The students learned some basics about different transformation methods while performing heat shock as well as electroporation on their own. Moreover, plasmid isolation and analysis as well as the identification of different bacterial resistance genes were taught. Furthermore, some of the given talks featured iGEM and our project. Besides the lab work, we tried to connect to the pupils by organizing a pizza evening and being available for discussions at the get-togethers. We answered their questions about university, different studies and more, always giving some input on synthetic biology. Some weeks after the end of the academy, we organized a re-meetup to answer questions the pupils came up with in the meantime.
Figure 2: Impressions from the Pupils Academy. Top left: Presentation about iGEM. Top right: Our team members explaining the transformation via electroporation to the pupils. Bottom: Result plates from transformations with gfp and rfp.