Education & Synthetic Biology

We designed a self-study sheet about our project and the CRISPR system. This gives everybody a chance to learn something about our toolkit and where it originates from. To inform students and teachers about Synthetic Biology, our team visited two high schools in Freiburg, Merian-Schule and Droste-Hülsoff-Gymnasium. The pupils were really interested in this field and asked interesting questions.


Learn something new about our uniCAS project, the CRISPR/Cas system and iGEM in a very easy and funny way: We have created a worksheet where you can test your knowledge in three different tasks.

Fill out the gap text, find the right sequence of the CRISPR/Cas sections and match the right numbers to some facts about iGEM.

In the sense of our sharing-idea we hope you enjoy the challenge and wish you lots of fun finding the right solutions.


Visiting High Schools

In the beginning we encouraged our listeners to think about the term "Synthetic Biology". We confronted them with questions like: What do you connect with synthetic materials? What does biology mean for you? Can you imagine a connection between life and machines? If you hear scientists talking about Synthetic Biology, what do you associate with this term?

After a short brainstorming session the on average 18-year old pupils shared their ideas and we collected catchwords in a panel painting.

In the center section of our workshop, we held a presentation about the beginning of genetic research with the identification of DNA as the information carrier and the discovery of the double helix up to new approaches in genome sequencing and starting to design completely new organisms. In this process Synthetic Biology was explained and the iGEM competition was introduced.

Subsequently, a big discussion started where pupils and teachers asked questions, while the members of our team answered to the best of their knowledge. Moreover, new ideas for future iGEM projects were developed and ethical aspects of genetical research were contemplated.

For upcoming questions the pupils and teachers were indicated to our Facebook page and an additional email address.

In addition to us visiting schools, interested pupils also took the chance to visit us in our laboratory. Here, they could get in touch with scientific work and our project. Among other things, they learned basic cell culture and gel-electrophoresis techniques. We explained what it means to work under sterile conditions and highlighted safety issues concerning e.g. carcinogenic chemicals like DNA stains, which are commonly used in laboratories.

In the end, a basis for future cooperation between these two high schools and the iGEM team of Freiburg was laid.

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.