Taking inspiration from Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos, our team created an instructional video describing how to properly execute a serial dilution. In the video, we carefully went through the process and proper lab techniques needed when conducting a serial dilution. After filming and editing the video, we posted it to Youtube to expand the educational potential of our video. We proposed the idea of a “Tasty-style” video to other iGEM teams, and iGEM Peshawar 2017, UNBC iGEM, and TNCR Korea created videos documenting the lab techniques of transformations, agarose gels, and ligation prep. Our intention in creating these videos is to teach viewers about common lab techniques in a simple and engaging way to aid them in their scientific endeavors.
CloneCademy & Collaboration with TU Darmstadt
Under the instruction of the TU Darmstadt iGEM team, our team contributed to the educational program of CloneCademy. CloneCademy is a series of learning modules with the purpose of teaching readers about biology and related fields, including biotechnology and the ethics of scientific research. Our team sent our tasty-style video playlist to TU Darmstadt so their team would be able to incorporate our lab-technique videos into their teaching program.
Mini iGEM Convention
On August 4-5th, we collaborated with the Gaston Day School team to host the Southeastern iGEM Mini Convention for iGEM teams geographically close to us. Although there were not as many teams present as we would have hoped for (just Gaston and Duke), this event gave each of us the opportunity to get closer with all teams and focus our time and energy into giving thorough and in-depth feedback and analysis on each other’s projects. We were in charge of contacting guest speakers in the Biological Engineering field who would be willing to give a lecture on the emerging and flourishing field of synthetic biology, including its ethical implications. After sending out over a 100 emails, we finally got positive responses, thus finalizing the schedule for the first day of the convention.
The following speakers were in attendance:
- Danielle Tullman Ercek, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Northwestern University: Discussed the way synthetic biology becomes part of a living system and redefines life. Also talked about the scope of synthetic biology, what it can achieve, and the applications and goals of the field.
- Connor McFadden, UNC - Chapel Hill : Discussed the formal definition of synthetic biology, and the subfields and components of contemporary synthetic biology.
- Emma Miles, Duke iGEM : Discussed the ethical implications of synthetic biology related to its applications (human advancement), distribution (biofuel production), and procedure (status of living machines). Also illustrated the importance of bridging the disconnect which makes it hard for the public to accept synthetic biology projects due to lack of communication and education from the scientists in charge of implementation.
There were also many fun and lighthearted activities for all of us to partake in. For example, the Duke iGEM team conducted an interview asking us questions like “Why do you love science?”, “What is your favorite piece of lab equipment and why?”, “If you could say something to any microorganism what would it be?”, etc. We socialized over a dinner consisting of pasta and salad from Olive Garden, ice cream, and a movie to kick off the night.
Reddit Synthetic Biology Forum
Along with the iGEM teams of Duke and Gaston Day school, our team created a subreddit to initiate discussion about synthetic biology. Our team and the Duke and Gaston Day teams function as the moderators of the Reddit thread called r/iGEM_Exchange. Read more about our synthetic biology forum on our human practices page.
Building with Bio Revamp
At the Southeastern Mini Convention, we got the chance to discuss potential collaborations in the Human Practices division with Gaston Day School and Duke. Since Duke’s project relates to developing an accessible and easy to use test for Zika in its primary stages, we all thought it would be a good idea to collaborate with Duke and work on revamping the Building with Bio kit for Malaria since it was a little outdated and not pertinent to the more pressing issue at hand: the Zika virus. For those who are unfamiliar with Building with Biology, it is a company that develops innovative resources designed to engage the public with a wide array of activities relating to the STEM field. The kits are assembled by a team of science educators, researchers, and scientists who are passionate about bringing modern day topics related to science, technology, and their societal implications to the discussion table so that the public can have these important conversations. Building with Biology’s mission is very similar to the our Human Practice’s mission: which is to go beyond the laboratory and delve into the underlying issues of projects in a social/environmental context. We worked all night and morning to research and rewrite the material, replacing all the information relating to Malaria with that relating to Zika. After multiple rough drafts and finalizations, we put the updated kit to action! Each team (Gaston, East, and Duke) hosted a Building with Biology Event where the materials were allocated to participants and discussion ensued. We used these events to gauge the level of awareness, and knowledge, the public currently has about Zika.