Homeschool Courses - Fall 2016 to present - Our main focus in education and outreach was teaching home-school courses at the Kaleidoscope Discovery Center, a local developing science education facility in our home town. Our team developed coursework to teach local students science courses as often parents feel less comfortable teaching STEM classes. We taught two quarter long semesters courses in general biology to grade schoolers, which included hands on activities, such as building fuzzy microbes to teach the different parts of microbes and using microscopes to view lake water. In Cell Biology, we taught lectures to mostly high school aged students on cell structure and function as well as basic cell biochemistry. We have written the coursework for a plant biology course intended for middle schoolers which we will begin teaching shortly after Giant Jamboree. Students of the courses were polled on their knowledge of synthetic biology and their opinion on whether or not it was a positive for humans and the environment. Their knowledge of synthetic biology were universally improved and the majority of students who had negative views of synthetic biology left with positive ones. We discussed as a class from which remaining negative views may stem. Many of them were still concerned about the safety of biological systems released into nature, and we discussed safety precautions that might make them more comfortable.
Missouri S&T Fall Showcase - September 20, 2017 - Team members helped to host over 350 local middle schoolers who traveled to Missouri S&T for our yearly on campus showcase - an event where they learn about many fields offered at S&T, including engineering, sciences and humanities. We assisted every child in performing a wheat germ DNA extraction and talked to students about the function of DNA in many organisms, including plants.
Presenting to Missouri Teachers - July 18, 2017 - Team members traveled to the Chesterfield, MO Monsanto location to present to a group of Missouri high school math teachers. We gave them a brief presentation on our project, its inspiration, and our research plans. Afterwards, we discussed with them when we had been introduced to synthetic biology and became interested in iGEM research. They were especially interested in the sorts of activities we tend to do with high school aged students to pique interest in genetic engineering. We afterwards sat down with a Monsanto representative, Valerie Bayes, regarding ways to communicate effectively with the public about our work and how to quell fears of those who do not yet understand synthetic biology.
Missouri S&T Earth Day - April 14, 2017 - Annually, Missouri S&T hosts a large Earth day festival that our team members are always excited to participate in. This year we brought green bean seedlings we had sprouted and small cups of soil, We helped students plant them and taught students how to care for them. We spoke to kids about plants’ natural property of uptaking chemicals and how our project capitalized on that. We also told about plant care and their importance in keeping the environment clean and producing the energy from the sun every animal on earth relies on.
National Engineers Week at the St. Louis Science Center - February 25 and 26, 2017 - The St. Louis Science hosts a yearly weekend event to inspire children to seek careers in engineering. At this year’s event, we talked to children about the functions of many bacteria and amoebas and the benefits of genetically modified foods.