Team:Carnegie Mellon/Hum-Outreach


Revision as of 00:37, 3 October 2012 by Ychoo (Talk | contribs)


Summer presentations to high school students

The Human Practices/Overview page provides information about the teaching materials, including a circuit kit, that our team created for the Lending Library of Kits of DNAZone, the K-12 grade outreach program of the Center for Nucleic Acids Science and Technology at Carnegie Mellon. The Synthetic Biology kit will be used by high school Science teachers in classrooms in the Pittsburgh Public School System. We have already tested the kit in several presentations given by the team to High School students studying on the Carnegie Mellon campus this summer.

This was the schedule and audience of our presentations:

  1. July 18 and August 1: Presentations to rising junior and senior high school students who participated in the Summer Academy of Math and Science at Carnegie Mellon. "The Summer Academy for Mathematics and Science (SAMS) is a rigorous residential summer experience for good students who have a strong interest in math and science and want to become excellent students." An objective of SAMS is to contribute to the expansion of the pipeline of outstanding college-bound high school graduates with diverse backgrounds.
  2. July 20: Presentation to high school students taking AP Biology at Carnegie Mellon and their teacher.
  3. August 1:

In these presentations (see our slides here), we introduced Synthetic Biology and iGEM to the students. Then we used the circuit kit to explain the main aspects of our research project and to demonstrate how hte biosensor can be used to characterize a promoter. For a given set of electronic components, we measured and displayed graphical representations of the current/voltage. Students could change the electronic components and observe the corresponding changes in current/voltage. We explained the students the formal equivalence of the electronic components and Biobricks and of the current/voltage and measured fluorescence signals. Finally, we ranked a group of electronic components/promoters by value of current/strength .

The students who attended our presentations learned about:

  1. Biological systems and synthetic biology
  2. The interdisciplinary nature of synthetic biology
  3. Gene expression and the central dogma of molecular biology
  4. How the software measures properties of promoters
  5. How synthetic biologists tackle real-world problems


The circuit will be the basis for a kit to be used by HS biology teachers in classrooms in public schools in Pittsburgh. The goal is to incorporate Synthetic Biology in the HS curriculum. The kit will be implemented by DNAZone, the outreach program of CNAST, and become part of their lending library of teaching materials.

Educational Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to define and describe the importance of synthetic biology
  2. Students will be able to identify one real-world application of gene expression
  3. Students will be able to explain how technology is used to extend human abilities
  4. Students will be able to analyze the correlation between the input and output values of the sensor model
  5. Students will be able to list advantages and disadvantages of using models to simulate processes and outcomes
  6. Students will be able to discuss the contributions that different science fields make to the interdisciplinary field of synthetic biology
  7. Students will be able to discuss ethics aspects related to synthetic biology