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Minds in Motion

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Exploring Synthetic Biology with Minds in Motion

Minds in Motion is a student led organization that focuses on providing summer camps at the University of Calgary. Each year the camp aims to expose youth to the exploration of science, engineering and technology through innovating and hands-on projects. This year our University of Calgary iGEM was very fortunate to be invited several times as a special guest working with kids age 10-12. During this time our goal was to provide our audience with a general understanding of synthetic biology through on-hands activities that showcases proper wet lab techniques.

The Activities

Using simple common household items (balloons and yarn), the Minds in motion campers would follow along as we explain the idea of inserting a gene of interest into a bacteria’s gene sequence. This was done through analogies such as blowing up the balloon to represent transformation or popping to balloon to simulate mini prep. The next activity included using pipettes and simple LB plates to explain the process of preparing bacteria for plating. This activity was meant to explain proper use of equipment, techniques to perform wet lab work and display bacteria with different colour GFP. For the last on-hand activity we tired to teach the children the basics of pH by testing common liquids and determining their pH.