CRISPR/Cas targets high school students of Homo sapiens and leads to immeasurable astonishment and excitement

Human Practice-Team FreiGEM 2013

Submitted: 01.08.2013

Abstract: CRISPR/Cas, a recently explored bacterial and archaeal immune system, was used to amaze different test groups of high school students of the model organism Homo sapiens. Therefore, students of the Merian-Schule and the Droste-Hülsoff Gymnasium of Freiburg were included into our studies. According to their properties, young aged (17 to 19 years), full of dreams, unspent ideas but no purposeful plan of what to do with their lifes, they reconstitute simple school classes how they exist a million times in Germany. In order to stimulate the test groups’ receptors for astonishment and excitement, they were challenged in a first row of experiments with the exhausting question of what they would associate with synthetic biology. After 15 minutes of incubation at 35°C and a probable ratio of 0.04%vol. of CO2 in the class room, their brainstorming resulted in a moderate panel painting with a mean of twelve termini. Strikingly, 91.6% of the named termini could be classified into the field of biotechnology and engineering, whereas the rest (8.3%) fixed with psychedelics. Afterwards, 30 minutes of lecture followed. It was divided in three equal long parts:

(a) the history of DNA,

(b) the internationally genetically engineered machine competition (iGEM) and

(c) application of synthetic biology.

Due to ten minutes of history the fascination of the students sank in a rapid manner never described before, but with mentioning iGEM the first time, the negative slope turned zero and increased during part (b). Information about applications of synthetic biology resulted in unbelieving bright eyes and gaping mouths, which was recorded as very strong evidence of astonishment. Finally, during 15 minutes of discussion, where the students could ask the members of the iGEM-Team Freiburg 2013 about above –mentioned the question arose what they were doing in detail.
CRISPR/Cas was presented and explained as a molecular biological tool to induce aimed activation and repression of several genes at the same time. The test groups reacted with unexpected ovations. These data could not reliably be quantified, but lead to the suggestion that CRISPR/Cas is a potential tool in astonishing and exciting gender-independently young specimens of Homo sapiens.