Team:NUS Singapore/Education

iGEM Wiki

iGEM Wiki



In collaboration with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) iGEM, we organized a half-day workshop entitled μBioMachines. Targeted towards Pre-University students, μBioMachines aimed to introduce students to synthetic biology basics and some famous industry applications. Additionally, as part of our Human Practices, we created a consumer education video to spread awareness about what bio-pesticides are!

Our Event

μBioMachines was organised to promote the basics of synthetic biology as an emerging field among pre-university students. We partnered with National Junior College (NJC), a leading secondary institution in Singapore, to help promote the event to other secondary institutions in Singapore. In all, we were able to reach out to 8 different secondary institutions across the country, aiming at students studying in Upper Secondary and Junior College.

The event was kicked off with an introduction to synthetic biology and what it entails. The students were introduced to what synthetic biology is and how deep it has permeated into various different industries. Teams were also made aware of the innovative past projects by iGEM teams and the active participation of students in furthering the development of synthetic biology.

Following the introduction to synthetic biology, the NUS iGEM team followed up with a lecture on the basics of synthetic biology. Using the case study of insulin production by E.Coli, We covered the topics on the central dogma of DNA and how this leads into the basic principles revolving around synthetic biology. We introduced the participants to the basics of Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL), BioBricks and how the DBTL principle applies to Synthetic Biology.

Throughout the lecture, participants were encouraged to interact with the lecturer and each other via QnA sessions. Participants actively responded to questions that helped recap the content and learn to apply this to real-life situations.

Beyond the interactive lectures, the iGEM teams used a variety of online resources to allow students to have a virtual experience in Synthetic Biology.

A virtual lab was constructed via gDevelop to orientate the students around a virtual lab and expose themselves to the various different tools and techniques in Synthetic Biology.

We further created a drag-and-drop build your own circuit activity to simulate SBOL and BioBricks. Furthermore, we used Kahoot quizzes and Mentimeter to allow audiences to participate in fast-paced quizzes and collaborative activities

From this juncture, the program shifted its ficus towards the real-world application of Synthetic Biology. This was kick-started by a presentation on Diagnostics and Synthetic Biology. The team went through how Synthetic Biology has allowed for faster and more efficient diagnostics kits to be designed, and how these novel applications were used to build the diagnostics kits recently during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

We then presented on the applications of Synthetic Biology in agriculture and food sciences. The team covered how synthetic biology can be used to meet the food needs of land-scarce Singapore. Topics such as artificial flavouring, biopesticides and even modern fermentation techniques were covered. We then linked the applications to various different real-life examples such as Perfect Day and Impossible Meat!

Our Collaboration with NTU

Outreach Event

Why did we decide to do this collaboration?

Students in Singaporean schools lack exposure to the field of synthetic biology. These concepts are foreign to them before they enter university programs. This restricts their chances to explore and develop an interest in synthetic biology. As members of the NUS iGEM team, we believe in the power of education and the importance of synthetic biology in our lives. Keeping this ethos in mind, in both 2018 and 2019, the NUS iGEM teams worked very hard to bring synthetic biology to the public in a series of events called "Life Hacks!". Following the foundation of their success, we were influenced to expand our reach to an even younger audience than previously targeted, to widen our outreach. Ultimately, to maximise our outreach, we turned to our neighbouring iGEM team at Nanyang Technological University as the previous years did too, to host and collaborate on the event.

How did we help each other?

With frequent online meetings to settle on our content for the event, both the universities developed and refined educational material and activities for the students. We each reached out to several schools and junior colleges to spread the word about the event. While planning the event, our main goal was to ensure that the students learnt about synthetic biology via an interactive medium, and took away something meaningful about the field of synthetic biology.

Our Materials

Build Your Own Circuit

The Build Your Own Circuit activity was used to simulate the BioBricks concept. In this, we created a Miro Board that will allow for remote collaboration in designing circuits based on different conditions given. This system is easy to modify and can be easily expanded to include more complex problems as well, serving as a tool to collaboratively explore the BioBricks concept. Check out the circuit template here!

μBioMachines Content Slides

The content slides designed for μBioMachines were built for a very specific target audience. μBioMachines was dedicated to making Synthetic Biology accessible to students at the secondary level (aged between 14 - 17). Beyond that, we also included students with no background in biology. Hence, the materials we created provide tools to effectively explain Synthetic Biology to a younger audience and also excites students to pursue Synthetic Biology in further Academic Pursuits. Click here to view the slides!

Undergraduate Outreach

Our team members also reached out and conducted short sharing sessions and talks with the students taking several different classes such as LSM3246 Synthetic Biology, BN4501 Engineering Biology. These sessions were designed to engage the students and give an overview of what a real-life synthetic biology application would be like as well as explaining what iGEM was all about.

Consumer Education Video

After our Human Practices interviews and consumer surveys, we found a gap in consumer awareness about biopesticides and their safety. From our research and outreach, we realised that better awareness and education could influence the introduction of biopesticides into the Singaporean market. So, we created a short, informative video that illustrated what biopesticides are, and how they can help us in the near future, as an eco-friendly, human-friendly, commercial-pesticide alternative. You can view this video in our Human Practices section!