Team:Bielefeld-Germany/Human Practices/Outreach


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 to raise public awareness for Synthetic Biology and iGEM. In the end the SynBioDay took place in Munich (TU and LMU), in Darmstadt, Göttingen, Marburg, Tübingen, Bonn and of course in Bielefeld. 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 take a look at our discussion with René Röspel, a member of the german parliament - see here).


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

In Bielefeld we organized the booth in cooperation with Bielefeld Marketing. We prepared a lot of different things. For example a microscope to have a look at microorganisms and a “wanted poster” for the classification of organisms. For kids we organized pipettes and lab coats for them to feel like scientists. They could pipet colored water and mix it, to see how the colors change. We also held small competitions: grope scipping 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 for them to understand our project and our approach We alsoplanned an experiment for DNA extraction for everyone. 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 what was their opinion of our work? Here you can read more about the feedback evaluation.


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 were able to 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 a lot of their questions and also got several applications for internships. The visitors acknowledged our collaboration with the iGEM team from SDU-Denmark. Everyone was impressed at how easy it was to extract DNA and that it was possible to “see” the DNA. Especially the kids were 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.

Did you notice that the picture at 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 generated 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 tomato 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 coffee filter 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 sharp knives
  • Kids are not allowed to use the ethanol, that's a job for the advisers

Poster Presentation

Of course we had acknowledged our duty by day one and were keep on spreading the word of Synthetic Biology and our own project. When we had our first poster ready nothing could stop us from doing our first presentations and if we could not find the occasion we had to create it on our own.

Introducing our project to the students of Bielefeld University

Mo presenting our poster to interested students.
Successful attraction of students with waffles and information.
This is the poster and the tasty waffles.

Our first attempt to bring our project approach to public attention should of course take place at our university. To reach as much students as possible in one day, we created a poster informing about our project, iGEM and Synthetic Biology. By baking delicious waffles that were scenting all through the university we were able to attract a lot of students and stuff them with food and information. The team was divided in different responsibilities such as presenting the poster, answering questions and waffle baking. By rotating the shifts we made sure that everyone got in front of the poster at some point.

Conclusion: Since it was our first presentation in public, it took some time to present confidently but in the end everyone was self-reliant and enjoyed talking and spreading the word. We noticed that even people which are not into the topic of Synthetic Biology were very interested in hearing more about our project and thought that the purification of waste water is a topic of high relevance for them. We were surprised by the open-mindedness of the students, the faculties and staff of our university. We had expected a lot of controversial questions and bioethics discussions, but what was brought to us was above all curiosity for Synthetic Biology, our project and the problems in water treatment. This could be due to the academic environment and the respect that is brought to a fellow-student. Anyway we were sure when we step outside the university the people would not always be that nice to us. All in all we were glad to have held our dress rehearsal under cozy conditions in a known environment and even with some waffles. Now we were ready to reach out even further.

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