SynBioDay: Street Science in Bielefeld


On the 28th of June all German iGEM teams were invited to the strategy process „Biotechnologie 2020+“ in Berlin. There we decided to plan and arrange a common day in all German cities with participating iGEM teams. In the end the SynBioDay took place in Munich (TU and LMU), in Darmstadt, Göttingen, Marburg, Tübingen, Bonn and of course in Bielefeld. To raise public awareness we all agreed to organize the event on the 25th of August. The idea behind our common day was to inform public not only about Synthetic Biology, but also about iGEM and our project. We also wanted to show that there are plenty of iGEM teams with great ideas, therefore, as part of our collaboration with the iGEM team from the Southern University of Denmark we invited them to present a poster at our booth and to help us with the realization. In Germany there is an ongoing debate about modern life sciences, especially biotechnology, genetic engineering and synthetic biology and we thought that by informing and explaining we might reduce prejudices (for the german debate about Synthetic Biology see here our discussion with René Röspel, a member of the german parliament).


The poster to describe our project, which we presented at Street Science.

In Bielefeld we organized the booth in cooperation with Bielefeld Marketing. We had prepared a lot of different things. For example a microscope to have a look on microorganisms and “wanted poster” for the organisms. For kids we had organized pipettes and lab coats to feel like scientists. They could pipet colored water and merge it, to see how colors change. We also held small competitions: jump roping with ropes made of reaction tubes and filling up pipette tip boxes as fast as possible. The kids could win golden Bluecaps filled with sweets and we made sure they won all the time. For the adult visitors we presented posters to understand our project and our approach and for everyone we had planned an experiment for DNA extraction. For our DNA extraction we took an experiment from CommunityBricks and modified it. We wanted our common day to be multimedial, so we showed a video about Synthetic Biology (taken from TechNyou. Credits to the iGEM Team from Bonn for translating, thank you. Click here to watch the video in german. Kevin also made a short video about plenty of different microorganisms, showing impressive electromicroscopic pictures (pictures were taken from wikipedia and from working groups of our university. Of course we wanted to know what people thought about our common day. Did they understand our goals and how was their opinion? Here you can read more about the evaluation of the feedback.


Our poster to illustrate the development of biology to Synthetic Biology.

The SynBioDay - StreetScience was a great success. Everything from organization to realization worked just fine. We could talk to a lot of people about Synthetic Biology and our project and they gave us a positive feedback. People were interested and fascinated by our project. They not only unterstood our goals, but also found it helpful, innovative and informative. We answered nearly all their questions and also got several applications for internships, which we sadly could not accept. The visitors acknowledged our collaboration with the iGEM team from SDU-Denmark and everyone was impressed how easy it is to extract DNA and that it is possible to “see” DNA. Especially the kids amazed and happy to take home their self-extracted fruit DNA. Looking at microorganisms through the microscope was fascinationg for kids and adults and everyone had a lot of fun. The possibility of Synthetic Biology to add new characteristics to microorganisms did not frighten the people, but led to an unterstanding of this new field of science and its potential applications.

We did a survey to have an evaluation about our booth and about possible errors. Here you can find the results.

Have you noticed that the picture on the top is a slider? Feel free to take a look at our picture gallery.


The poster of the iGEM team SDU-Denmark, which the danish iGEM team presented at Street Science.
  • With our SynBioDay - Street Science we could generate publicity. Here you can find the links to the two press articles.
  • In the box below you can find the instructions for the extraction of fruit DNA, taken and modified from CommunityBricks.

Script for DNA-Extraction
  • 1. Mix a tea spoon of salt and 3 – 4 big drops of dishwashing detergent (or a squirt) in a BlueCap (50 mL) and add water up to 50 mL. Close the BlueCap and agitate till everything is solubilized.
  • 2. Cut an apricot, a tomate or a banana into half, break a half into small pieces and mix them with your Detergent-Salt-Solution
  • 3. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes
  • 4. Use a blender to crush your fruit pieces (be careful, only blend for a short time, < 5 sec)
  • 5. Use a coffeefilter to separate the fluid and the solid
  • 6. Transfer a part of your fluid into a test tube and pour ice-cold ethanol down the inside of the tube, use the same volume fluid and ethanol
  • 7. DNA-strands precipitate in the upper phase (this can take up to 5 minutes). You can fish your DNA with a wooden toothpick, if you want to.
  • 8. Place the DNA in a reaction tube, add ethanol and glue the cap
  • 9. Kids now can take home the fruit DNA they extracted


  • Don't let kids handle fierce knives
  • Kids are not allowed to use the ethanol, that's a job for the advisers

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