The NYUAD iGEM team invited high school students and teachers from Brighton College in Abu Dhabi, UAE, to experience an iGEM research environment. This one-day workshop provided the students with the opportunity to channel their interest in both biology and engineering. This is the first high school workshop that is tailored towards exposing talented high school students to iGEM in the UAE, and future NYU Abu Dhabi iGEM teams will continue hosting this workshop for students in and around Abu Dhabi. All of the materials we used are provided below.
The workshop was kicked off by a presentation on iGEM and emphasized how the students can get involved by potentially joining future NYUAD teams or by creating their own team. Throughout this presentation, the students also learned the important connection between biology and engineering in the context of iGEM and the field of synthetic biology. This presentation was followed by the first workshop of the day: GLO, Bacteria, GLO, which taught the students how to transform pGLO DNA into DH5α E. coli using the heat shock method. The NYUAD team walked them through basic laboratory techniques including, lab safety, basic pipetting techniques and bacterial transformation, which is integral to an iGEM team’s success. The students then experienced the engineering environment through the second workshop Arduino + LED, which taught the students how to integrate many elements to create a device that included interactive design, programming, and circuitry. The students learned the basics of programming and circuit design by creating their own simple circuit using LEDs and Arduino, an open source electronic platform. After completing the workshop, the students also received a copy of the NYUAD team’s magazine Synthetic Biology 101 as a source for further information about recent advances in synthetic biology.
The NYUAD team is proud to have pioneered the first iGEM-specific workshop for high school students in the UAE. The workshop achieved the original aim of propagating the impact of iGEM in the region and encouraging interest in scientific research among high school students. In the future, the NYUAD team envisions similar workshops that can reach a larger audience in the UAE.
For further details, please download our powerpoint slides and the protocols we used for both engineering and biology workshops.
NYUAD iGEM team wrote and printed Synthetic Biology 101, a magazine on synthetic biology that deals not only with an overview of synthetic biology, but also a variety of topics ranging from iGEM competition, importance of food safety, NYUAD iGEM team project in 2017, and many more. We distributed the magazine personally to people who participated in our various human practices activities. The pdf version of our magazine was also shared online.
One Saturday evening, inspired by a TED talk that he recently watched on iGEM, a student from NYU New York emailed us, How can I start my own iGEM team?. For a freshman minoring in genetics, iGEM must have seemed like Disneyland; a Jamboree of 4000 outstanding minds, representing 300 teams from five different continents, all gathered at the same place to share what they’ve accomplished in the past year. Moreover, when we hosted a high school workshop with students and teachers from Brighton College Abu Dhabi, we sensed a great interest from them in iGEM. What is the best advice we can give these potential iGEM participants?
Firstly, it should be noted that this competition is open to a diverse group of educational institutions. iGEM reunites synthetic biology enthusiasts all the way from the high school level up to graduate students and researchers. This mixture of people of varying expertise on this interdisciplinary field provides a perfect opportunity to learn from one another. A high school or an undergraduate student who is starting to learn about synthetic biology and desires to start an iGEM team should reach out to faculty or researchers who work in this field in order to obtain helpful guidance. Nonetheless, if an institution does not count with a group specifically dedicated to synthetic biology, it is still perfectly possible to participate. In this case, biology and engineering faculty can act as mentors.
Another important aspect to take into account is funding. Despite research in STEM generally requires access to costly equipment, reagents, and facilities, iGEM teams with heterogeneous access to resources have participated successfully in the competition. A concrete example of a team with scarce resources who succeeded at the Giant Jamboree is Team Sumbawagen , who did not have access to a key piece of equipment for their project, but still worked hard in order to solve a significant issue of their community. Collaboration with other teams is key to overcome problems as the one Team Sumbawagen experienced; other institutions may have the required resources to test parts or perform other experiments for another group.
Of course, one of the most important parts of starting an iGEM team is having a good idea for a project. iGEM enthusiasts need to think about this carefully: what problem that affects a given community, large or small, can they solve by applying synthetic biology concepts? A large amount of research needs to go into how the project will impact everyone involved and the environment. Working closely with those who the project aims to benefit will help to understand what are their needs and how they should be addressed.
What’s next? Apply on behalf of your school for the contest, come up with a cool project idea involving Biobricks, keep dedications high, and take it a step further to Boston to show the world what you’ve accomplished!
Our portable device enables users to detect the impurities in their food on-the-go. The WHO estimated that 1 in 10 individuals are affected by foodborne diseases globally each year. We have developed La La LAMP, a program which allows individuals to record and share their device results. Each experiment can be recorded by scanning its unique QR code, which is provided on the PDMS chip. We envision that this information sharing would enable scientists and researchers to better track trends in food safety, as well as enable the general public to take control of their food safety wherever they are in the world.
The base starting file, which is also available on the first link below, is Beta 3. In Beta 4, users can now check the database of their previous logfile simply by uploading it to the application. The application with display all results in a rich textbox format. This version is available in the second link below.
[External] You can download the beta version of our app [Beta 3] via this link.
Also, latest updates to the app will be periodically added here.
We highly encourage you to download the latest beta files from the second link, as we'll periodically keep updating it. Future changelogs will also be added there.
We envision our program to be accessible on mobile devices (iOS/Android). To this regard, we are working to export the records to a more navigable datasheet that can be categorized according to time, location, and other variables and accessed via the Cloud.