In order to aid in the spreading of biology information, we wrote a 215 page book titled “Fundamentals of Synthetic Biology and Biochemistry” which aligned with our school’s NGSS standards. Our book was written with accessible language, was translated into Farsi, Spanish, Telugu, Korean, and Chinese, and recorded into an audio book, diversifying the book’s audience. We conducted pre-reading and post-reading quizzes, which demonstrated the readers’ increase of biology knowledge. With the book, we developed an app which contains a summary of our book and the questions, and a short children's book, which again, helped us reach a wider audience. Additionally, we hosted a summer camp which taught bioinformatics to middle and highschoolers. Again, we conducted pre-camp and post-camp surveys, the results proving the effectiveness of the teaching. All camp material was condensed into videos which are uploaded to our Youtube channel. Finally, we presented to our classes about iGEM to spread awareness.
Advanced Synthetic Biology Book
To best communicate core synthetic biology concepts, we published a 215-page book, Fundamentals of Synthetic Biology and Biochemistry: An introduction to general biology with an emphasis on Synthetic Biology and Biochemistry
We wrote a book on the fundamentals of synthetic biology and biochemistry. This book covered all relevant fields of biochemistry, ranging from genetics to molecular biology, as well as applications of the theory in the real world, and miscellaneous topics such as ethics and lab safety. Our book also included sections such as relevant careers to ensure that all material is up to date, modern, and well prepared for readers, and is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), keeping their core principles central to our book. The book was created with the goal of integrating a vast field into an easy-to-understand, yet advanced source for biology and chemistry knowledge. Our book is published on Amazon to allow for greater accessibility.
Abridged Versions with Translations/Audio
In order to make our book more accessible to different people, we translated an abridged version of our originally 215 page book to Farsi, Spanish, Telugu, Korean, and Chinese. We also made an audio recording of the book in English to make our content available to those who cannot read English or are blind, and more accessible to those who would prefer to listen to the book rather than read it.
We conducted a pre-reading and post-reading quiz and came to validate that our book was engaging, informative, and made a positive impact on the community. We saw that there was an increase in the pre-reading and post-reading score and found many interesting insights from our 2-variable analysis.
Synthetic Biology Summer Camp
Camp Curriculum Standards and Fundraising
Our camp materials and slideshows also aligned with NGSS Standards. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold our camp in-person this summer due to the pandemic, so our camp was less hands-on than previous years, where we would teach the student’s lab techniques in our school’s lab. However, we still tried to make the camp as interactive as possible, making worksheets and activities for the participants to do instead of lecturing for the whole duration. The purpose of our camp was not only to fundraise for our CCA iGEM team but also to educate the youth of our community and potentially give them a passion for STEM topics. Our camp materials covered a broad range of biology topics such as synthetic biology, taxonomy, bioinformatics, and tools and techniques used in the lab.
Camp Survey Analysis
We had the students fill out a survey and short quiz before and after the camp, with 10 questions on each of the topics covered. We also asked them questions at the end about their general thoughts of the camp, such as how much they thought they learned and how much they paid attention. Although not all of the camp participants indicated that they were interested in pursuing a career in biology, most students did claim that they gained relevant and valuable information and also enjoyed the content and instructors’ methods of teaching. There was a positive correlation between how much the students paid attention and their test scores; those who were more attentive generally scored 80-100% on the post-camp survey.
Teacher's Manual/ Material
Additionally, we made an instructor's manual that served as the guideline for the camp we ran over the summer. It includes correspondence with the NGSS (State Science Standards), an ideal schedule, surveys, and important info. In order to make it interactive, we also implemented a system with participation points awarded for doing well in various quiz based games to increase student involvement.
We upload to our CCA iGEM Youtube channel with videos of our project and with recordings of our camp lectures about biology and bioinformatics. Since we understand that not everybody has the means to have access to learning about more advanced biology topics outside of school, we wanted to provide a free and accessible way of educating those who want to further their understanding of synthetic biology or those who want to start learning about it. The link to our Youtube channel can be found here.
We went to multiple classrooms and resented our iGEM presentation as to not only bring awareness to our project but awareness to iGEM in general. We received glowing feedback from all of our teachers as well as classmates. We also had an interactive session where people were able to raise concerns about our project. Below are some of the major concerns and how we addressed them.
|Why would people want to switch to your collagen? Isn’t bovine collagen well established and probably cheaper?||In fact, our collagen is cheaper to manufacture. With the costs of space, food, and resources to grow the calves the price of collagen is greatly inflated. Our collagen will grow faster, use less space and resources, and thus will be cheaper. We hope that both the financial and ethical benefits are enough for people to make the switch.|
|I am scared that the modified yeast might escape into the environment and cause detrimental effects that we have not planned for.||We did an environmental analysis of our project this year as well as a safety write up. For our proposed implementation we made use of a bioreactor to contain the yeast. All-in-all there is no reason for the yeast to enter the environment and even if they do, none of the protein they are expressing will be harmful to the other biota.|
We created a children’s book, accompanied with a short worksheet. Our book focuses on making complex biology concepts simpler and more accessible to younger elementary aged kids. It covers the A-Z basics of biology vocab, explaining each word in a way which children, with little prior biology knowledge, could grasp. Our goal was to introduce children to the field of biology and fuel their interests while still making the content interesting and attention grabbing with multiple pictures and visually appealing fonts.
Interactive Mini Worksheet
Our book focuses on making complex biology concepts simpler and more accessible to younger elementary aged kids. It covers the A-Z basics of biology vocab, explaining each word in a way which children, with little prior biology knowledge, could grasp. Our goal was to introduce children to the field of biology and fuel their interests while still making the content interesting and attention grabbing with multiple pictures and visually appealing fonts.
We developed an educational app to go hand-in-hand with our 215 page book. This app has 2 parts: A short summary of each of the chapters in our book as well as a question back to revise and test the main Qconcepts. We had middle and high school students in our school test out our app and we found that their comprehension of the book was higher. We had 40 students in our study with 20 students giving a test without revising with the app and 20 students using the app to revise. All 40 students read our primary book and were quizzed before reading and were given the same quiz after reading. It was just that 20 students also used the app in addition to the book. The test was 20 multiple choice and we learned the following:
|Without the App||With the App|
|Before Reading||After Reading||Before Reading||After Reading|