Synthetic biology is redesigning life on Earth!

Synthetic biology is a rapidly expanding field where even the smallest advancements can make great improvements in the quality of life. Generations growing up in such a world will be exposed to synthetic biology on an exponential scale. However, traditional views can bias the opinions of the younger generation. In an attempt to encourage young minds to develop their own thoughts on synthetic biology, the University of Ottawa iGEM team has written, illustrated, and published a children’s book! The purpose of the book is to facilitate the educational process of understanding synthetic biology concepts in a language that even the youngest of minds can understand.


The children’s book entitled Mr. Cool’s Microscopic Adventures follows the life of synthetic biologist Mr. Cool, as he attempts to save the microscopic residents of YeastVille from the dire situations of an oil spill and a few unwelcome guests, among other disasters. In each scenario, Mr. Cool and the yeast encounter a challenge which they solve using synthetic biology. Demonstrating the fundamentals of synthetic biology, Mr. Cool is able to transform the yeast to possess desired traits in order to overcome real-world problems. In a lovable rhyming matter, Mr. Cool and his fellow yeast friends show how synthetic biology can help you, too! See a preview below!


Check-out our book at three branches of the Ottawa Public Library!

Members of the Ottawa community are able to check-out a copy of Mr. Cool's Microscopic Adventures from three Ottawa Public Library locations. Mr. Cool’s Microscopic Adventures is available from, making our lessons on synthetic biology available to a global audience. People around the world are now able to purchase a hardcopy of Mr. Cool’s Microscopic Adventures. With a registered ISBN (ISBN-13: 978-0992094508) our book is easy to find, too! In addition, we digitized the book creating a high resolution audiovisual book and generated an audiobook, allowing Mr. Cool’s Microscopic Adventures to be shared across many platforms.

So, how do we target our initial audience? We take it to the one place kids spend most of their day - school!

We took our children’s book to schools in the Ottawa region and used it as an aide in a workshop on synthetic biology. Students aged 8-10 years were exposed to basic lessons of protein function, DNA transformation, and applications of synthetic biology. The students’ knowledge of the basic concepts were analyzed at the beginning of the session and then re-evaluated at the end with the use of a short survey. Mr. Cool’s Microscopic Adventures proved to be an excellent teaching aide with an increase in the overall correct answers from the survey before and after the workshop. The students were successful in identifying the meaning of DNA and synthetic biology. Knowledge gain was also evident with characteristics of yeast as well as general practices such as microscopy. Results from the survey conducted during the workshops are displayed below.

The data for 24 students in two schools demonstrate a 40% increase in the average number of questions correctly answered by students after reading Mr. Cool's Microscopic Adventures. The statistical significance of these data were tested by a student t-test with a p-value > 0.0002. These results strongly suggest that the children's book was effective in expanding students' knowledge of synthetic biology and its related concepts.