Team:Alberta/human practices


Revision as of 04:02, 26 October 2010 by Kimf (Talk | contribs)


Human Practices

As an educational kit GENOMIKON is itself a project strongly involved with the human practices of synthetic biology. The kit is an introduction to synthetic biology teaching the next wave of students about its principles and practices even before they enroll in university. The goal of our project was to create a functional kit capable of assembling complete plasmids to be used in educational setting and Genomikon is highly successful in this regard. The GENOMIKON kit however will never teach anyone if it never makes its way to classrooms. With this in mind we decided to do the human practice portion of our project directly addressing this problem.

Business Plan and Market Analysis

Our team began imagining ways to accommodate the global demand for GENOMIKON with the goal of getting the kit in each and every high school all around the world. To address this issue of accessibility, undergraduate students from the University’s school of business created a hypothetical business plan and market analysis to bring GENOMIKON to market. A business plan was created because we recognize that in our society the marketplace is the most efficient means to manufacture and distribute a good to the greatest number people. This business plan is designed to help our project to have the biggest impact on humanity sharing the knowledge of synthetic biology to as many people as possible

Real World Trials

A group of five high school students came into our lab and successfully used the Genomikon kit to transform E. coli , making red cultures.

Traditionally, high school biology experiments have focused on dissections. Molecular biology is given very little attention. Genomikon is meant to change this. On Oct. 24, 2010, five high school students came into our lab to test out our kit. Here's what the students had to say when asked about what they knew about E. coli :

  • 'It's in meat' - Jillian Underwood, 15
  • 'It can live in our intestines' - Aymen Saidane, 17

Their comments represent the typical public eye's view of E. coli . The students were then educated on the difference between the pathogenic E. coli , the strain that poses severe health risks, and the strain we are using in our kit (DH5α), that is perfectly harmless. Students were instructed to wear gloves as a safety measure, but assured us that they were not apprehensive about experimenting with E. coli.

One of our team members taught the students simple theory, including the structure of DNA, what a plasmid is, and how DNA is replicated. Grade 12 student, Aymen Saidane, said that he had already learned the content in his Biology 30 course in high school, but had not had the chance to apply his knowledge. The only experiment he had done regarding molecular biology was 'cut paper DNA sequences with scissors, to represent restriction enzymes, and then matched our pieces with classmates.'

The entire plasmid assembly procedure took approximately two hours. We then garnered some feedback:

  • 'The magnetic beads are cool' - Jill Hacking, 15
  • 'The plastic pipettes were easy to use and kind of fun' - Bryce Stewart, 15
  • They didn't mind the fact that they didn't get to do the transformation.
  • 'I don't think I could explain this to my parents, because they wouldn't get it, but if I explained it to a friend, he would understand.' - Alan Ho, 16
  • 'I learned the theory already, but I got to apply it today.' - Aymen Saidane, 17

The plasmids the students constructed were transformed and grew over night. The result? Several RFP expressing colonies.

This is just the beginning of GENOMIKON in the classroom. High school biology experiments have traditionally focused on dissections, but we want to draw attention to molecular biology, because of its immense potential.

Not only will GENOMIKON challenge E. coli's generally negative reputation as threatening to society, it will educate students and teachers, first hand, on how synbio can be used to assist society.

Social Aspect

iGEM within Alberta is about making lifelong friends and colleagues as well as learning valuable problem solving and research based skills. All the Alberta teams (University of Alberta, University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge) met at least once in each hometown to exchange ideas and work together towards our individual project goals in workshops and our yearly aGEM competition. aGEM serves as a testing ground for each teams projects and allows each team to receive feedback from experts in multiple disciplines and from the other teams. The close relationships between the teams is helped by AITF which helps to collaborate aGEM among the other meetings. The Albertan teams may compete against each other but we all enjoyed taking each other out on the town during the three times we met this year and exchanging ideas with one another.