Team:Queens Canada/Outreach/ShadValley


Untitled Document

Spreading Synthetic Biology
This year QGEM collaborated with Shad Valley Queen’s to create a workshop in the field of synthetic biology for high school students. Our goal for this outreach initiative was to expose secondary school students to the emerging field of synthetic biology and spark an interest in this new technology. We tried to emulate the iGEM experience and with these ideas in mind planned a two day crash course.
The first day involved a short lecture as to the basis and principles of synthetic biology. We explained the basic mechanisms of our work and also showed examples of previous projects. We wanted to show the students what could be accomplished with synthetic biology, in terms of its versatility and applicability to current problems in various domains. Afterwards, the students were sorted in groups and brainstormed ideas for possible synthetic biology projects. They chose their top three ideas and presented them to the rest of their peers, ultimately narrowing it down to one.
Following the conception of their project idea, their second day of workshops began with a debate. Members of the Queen’s Debating Union were invited to have a debate over the topic of genetically modified organisms in the field of agriculture. They covered the potential benefits and dangers associated with employing synthesized organic material on a large scale and also the ethical and political issues associated. Followed by a lecture on the general overview of the financial and logistic considerations for their projects, the students then embarked on a meeting to finalize the ideas for their synthetic biology products. Finally, they presented their ideas, allowing for questions and critique of their project.
The students left with a keen interest in synthetic biology with many wanting to join iGEM groups when they enter post-secondary institutions. See for yourselves how it went!