iGEM 2012

Educational Initiatives

  • Community Outreach
  • International Outreach
  • IAP Synthetic Biology Lab Class


  • Fellow iGEM Teams

Community Outreach

HSSP Class

We are passionate about sharing the exciting advances in research in the field of synthetic biology with young minds! On August 12, 2012, we taught a course on Synthetic Biology to local Boston middle-school students through the MIT Educational Studies Program. Our fun course included introducing the central dogma and basic molecular biology background information, teaching about cool circuit parts and simple molecular biology design tools, and interesting new applications of the research. Through our engaging course, we hope to have inspired these young minds to learn more about the field and to join us as members of the synthetic biology community some day!

Splash! Class

On November 17, 2012, we plan on teaching a course about Synthetic Biology to Cambridge and Boston high-school students. We hope to make a difference in the lives of a few future biologists by introducing them to tools, techniques, and exciting applications from the cutting edge of synthetic biology. Since this is for high-school students, we will be able to cover more difficult material. We're looking forward to it!

International Outreach Projects

Internationalization Project of Synthetic Biology

Our team has laid the foundations of the Internationalization Project of Synthetic Biology (IPSB), a collaborative project between MIT and Tel-Aviv University (TAU) that aims to introduce synthetic biology to Palestinian and Israeli high school students. The project seeks to educate these students in basic synthetic biology, bioengineering, and bio-entrepreneurship principles in a combined, collaborative setting. Over the course of three years, the students would work together to develop a technical project to present in the iGEM High School Contest, as well as a business plan to commercialize their proposed project to present in the iGEM Entrepreneurial Contest. The program would allow veteran MIT iGEM students to instruct the students in Tel-Aviv over the summers, and would have TAU instructors lead supervision during the academic year. The pilot program is proposed to run from (June 2013-June 2014), with the intent of creating a Palestinian-Israeli iGEM college-division team as well in the future.

IAP Synthetic Biology Class

Last January, students from the 2011 MIT iGEM team ran an introductory synthetic biology class to recruit students for this year's program and to spread interest in the subject. The class was offered during MIT's storied Independent Activities Period (IAP), a four-week gap period in MIT's academic calendar. Over two weeks, students learned biological theory and basic lab techniques, and built an inducible luciferase circuit. Several students in the class ended up joining the 2012 iGEM team. We plan to offer this class again next year and are currently designing the curriculum.

Graph of fluorescence over time in student-constructed circuits

Course description, and course materials are available.


We participated in the first New England Regional iGEM (NEGEM) meeting at Boston University! Hosted by the BU team on September 15, 2012, the NEGEM meeting allowed four local iGEM teams – Boston University, Wellesley, Brown-Stanford, and MIT – to practice presenting our respective projects in front of an audience. Each team received valuable anonymous feedback about their project and viewed presentations from members of the other three teams. We really appreciate the opportunity to have been a part of this collaborative experience!

Learn more about NEGEM on the BU iGEM team wiki.

Teams socializing at NEGEM. Picture by the BU iGEM team.

Collaboration with Fellow iGEM Teams


We collaborated with the Wellesley HCI team as beta-testers of their software! Check out their wiki. We got to play with Wellesley's touch screen MoClo planner software, on a large PixelSense-style screen (a.k.a. the old, pre-tablet Microsoft Surface). MoClo planner makes the plasmid-building process easier by integrating research tools, computer aided design, and construction planning under one application. Having experienced plasmid construction firsthand this summer, the MIT iGEM team wholeheartedly supports any efforts to make the task simpler.

Two members of MIT's iGEM team with two members of Wellesley's iGEM team in an MIT conference room, testing Wellesley's MoClo planner.

Several members of our team also tested SynBio Search, Wellesley's semantic search website for synthetic biologists.

In addition to testing their software, we also helped the Wellesley team by hosting Wellesley observers in our team meetings. Through observing our team in action, the Wellesley team improved their understanding of what sorts of tools synthetic biologists need, and what challenges they face that can be solved by software.

TU Munich

Our team also participated in a survey run by TU Munich and received a collaboration medal from their team (shown below). Check out their wiki.