Throughout the iGEM year, we got in contact with a lot of different iGEM teams to work together and to help each other out. We met a lot of awesome people!

Bochum Wiki Workshop

This year, we mentored the iGEM Team Bochum to tackle the most important things for programming their wiki. Due to the pandemic, we performed our wiki workshop online over Zoom. We explained the basics of HTML and CSS as well as some common commands that are helpful when implementing the wiki. Therefore, we also showed several consecutive programing commands and how to combine them. Furthermore, we gave general advice and prepared a list of important commands that the team could use while programming their wiki. We enjoyed the mentoring!

Phototroph community – iGEM Phototrophs – overgrow the world

Working with plants in iGEM is not an easy undertaking due to the short timeframe. However, more and more brave teams decide to use photosynthetic organisms such as cyanobacteria, algae or higher plants as their chassis. Together with the iGEM Team Marburg we built up a strong partnership and created a phototroph community platform for all the iGEM teams working with phototrophs. The first step of bringing all the phototrophic teams together was creating a Slack workspace specifically for exchange and communication between these teams. There, teams had the possibility to ask other teams and even experts in the field questions, share ideas and get to know each other better. We organized a series of meetups where we invited renowned scientists as guest speakers such as Prof. Jennifer Brophy or Prof. Ilka Axmann. The meetups also included troubleshooting sessions with invited experts, where teams could talk about their difficulties on working with phototroph organisms. Participation from other teams was important for us, too. That is why the last two meetups were used to give several teams from the community the opportunity to present their challenges while working with phototrophs or their project approaches on how to make the world a better place. Despite the end of our iGEM year, we plan to continue the phototroph community in the next years to make it easier for future phototrophic teams. With the teams of the formed phototroph community, we created a handbook packed full of important information about working with phototrophs. We want to establish a living document that can be extended by future iGEM teams so that the phototroph community in iGEM will overgrow the world! Click here, to read more about our partnership with the iGEM team Marburg!

Aachen & Eindhoven - Primary lesson plan experiments

The iGEM teams Aachen and TU Eindhoven came up with the idea of developing a project in which children uncover chemical phenomena. In a playful way, the children should use simple basic concepts of chemistry to unravel the mystery of what lies behind it and how it all works.

Since educating children has been important to us along the way, we have joined in and contributed two experiments to the lesson plan.

The first experiment is designed to show children a simple way on how to extract DNA from fruit like strawberries with simple ingredients that can be found in every household. With this, we want to provide a playful approach to the abstract concept of “DNA” and show that all kinds of living things contain DNA.

The second experiment involves red cabbage as a pH indicator. An experiment that is exciting for both young and older children. The color change alone makes it a nice experiment to explain the difference between acids and bases to children in an easy way and encourages them to test many different foods and, for example, to establish the connection between the sour taste of the lemon and the pH value of the juice. You can find the protocols for the experiments here!

iGEM MSU and Costa Rica – biocontainment discussion

iGEM MSU and Costa Rica organized a discussion round about biocontainment which we were happy to attend. As a guest speaker, Tessa Alexandrian from the iGEM Safety and Security Committee talked about how iGEM Teams generally implement biocontainment in their projects and all the participating teams discussed about their biocontainment strategies. As we have not thought about biocontainment in detail in our project at that point, it was very helpful to get insights from other iGEM teams. We learned that it is not sufficient enough to only have one single biocontainment strategy. For example, a kill switch in combination with auxotrophy is a way better alternative to just making use of a kill switch alone. At the end, we continued discussing general biocontainment topics and learned a lot from it!

"Ask Nici" translations

“Ask Nici” is our education program for children aged 4-12. There, children asked us all the science questions that they could think of and we answered them in an easy, well-understood manner for children in German and English as a podcast mini-series but also by text. However, we thought that the answers to these very important topics should not be just exclusive for English- and German-speaking people. Therefore, we asked other iGEM teams to help us translate the 10 most important questions into their native languages. The responses were amazing! We got translations for the questions and answers in sixteen languages, from Chinese to Finnish to Portuguese!

iGEM Universitas Indonesia - Translation of H. pylori booklet

The iGEM Team Universitas Indonesia asked us to translate their booklet about Heliobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection into German. By that, information about this important topic is also available for German-speaking people. H. pylori has already infected 50 % of the world’s population, making it a worldwide problem. This infection can lead to serious symptoms such as chronic gastric infection (gastritis), gastric ulcers and gastric cancer. You can read the booklet about H. pylori infection, its symptoms and how to prevent infection in English and in German.

iGEM Wageningen – LabOlympics

We took part in the LabOlympics organized by iGEM Wageningen. For that, we competed in four different lab challenges. Firstly, we had to fill 52 wells of a 1 % agarose gel with 5 µL of sample as quickly as possible. Secondly, we had to melt 1.5 mL of ice in a reaction tube while being timed. Thirdly, we shot a pipet tip into a bucket as quickly as possible. And lastly, we had to flip falcons and land three on their lid. We had lots of fun!

iGEM Unizar - Spotify Playlist

Music helps us to stay motivated in the laboratory and makes activities more fun. iGEM Unizar created a Spotify playlist from songs that iGEM Teams listen to all over the world – one in their native language and their favorite song in any language. Check out the Spotify playlist here.