Team:Carnegie Mellon/Hum-Outreach


Revision as of 23:07, 26 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.

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 the 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. Synthetic biology and its relationship to Biology and Science and Engineering in general
  2. Gene expression and the central dogma of molecular biology
  3. How synthetic biologists tackle real-world problems
  4. The iGEM competition and how our iGEM team's project enables one to measures the properties of promoters
  5. The interdisciplinary nature of synthetic biology
  6. The advantages and challenges of interdisciplinary work

Photos from our summer presentations can be found here.

The circuit is the basis for a kit to be used by high school Science teachers in classrooms in public schools in Pittsburgh. This is a means to incorporate Synthetic Biology in the HS curriculum. The kit is made available through the Lending Library of Science Kits of DNAZone, the K-12 outreach program of the Center of Nucleic Acids Science and Technology (CNAST).

The educational objectives of the classes in which the students use our Synthetic Biology kit are:

  1. Students will be able to give a definition of synthetic biology
  2. Students will be able to identify one real-world application of synthetic biology
  3. Students will be able to explain how technology is used to extend human abilities
  4. Students will be able to recognize the correlation between the input and output of a biological or electronic circuit
  5. Students will be able to recognize the advantages and limitations of using models to simulate processes that relate an input and its output
  6. Students will be able to discuss the value of collaboration in interdisciplinary fields
  7. Students will be able to discuss ethics aspects related to synthetic biology