Visiting High Schools

To inform students and teachers about Synthetic Biology, our team visited two high schools in Freiburg, Merian-Schule and Droste-Hülsoff-Gymnasium.

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.