geekStarter Community Highlights – March 2017

Updates from our Synthetic Biology Teams The Lab skills workshop in Lethbridge has been a great success! The lab and classroom sessions, as well as the new speaker seminars, added much value to the teams’ projects and advanced students’ knowledge and skills. Below are brief highlights the teams shared with us. Enjoy! The SynBio team from Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy in Canmore moved forward on several fronts in Lethbridge. In the lab, the OLS SynBio team gained hands-on practice with standard laboratory protocols. By the end of the weekend they had confirmation that the protocols worked and they had successfully put a new DNA program into bacterial cells. The team has also tested the Amino Labs’ kit for turning bacteria blue, as well as the Bio-painting and Puzzle Pipetting activities they will be showcasing on their upcoming educational outreach roadshow. The team used classroom time to discuss project ideas and design with their team mentors. They’ve settled on designing a synthetic biology project for making textiles from recycled plastics in a most cost-effective way possible, and much of the discussion revolved around methods for reaching out to a large diversity of people connected with the plastics industries. Notre Dame Collegiate Syn Bio team from High River made a lot of progress at the recent lab skills workshop in Lethbridge. The team used some of the time in the lab to troubleshoot experiments they had done prior to the workshop. This helped them identify the reason why some of the lab protocols had failed to work in their own school lab. They also ran through the standard laboratory protocols to ensure they would be able to successfully replicate them in their own school lab. In the classroom, the team focused on research for their project on...

A Team’s Journey into Design Thinking

The team at Ted Harrison School in Calgary is now in their second year of learning design thinking methods and applying them to their water filtration project. We asked them to share their story. Here is what they had to say. Our story begins with bees and estrogen. During our early searches through issues and ideas, half of our team became fascinated with the impact pesticides were having on bees and colony collapse, while the other half were concerned about pharmaceuticals that where building up in our water supply. We saw a disconnect between the two project ideas, and eventually found a middle ground and decided to tackle the growing concern of pesticides accumulating in our water ways.   After reaching this compromise, we felt that we already had a project and like most teams, we thought we just needed to look at the technology and build it. We found an enzyme called OpdA that degrades organophosphates, a main ingredient in pesticides. Our plan was to make bacteria that would produce this enzyme, and then filter run off by sticking the bacteria to plastic beads that we scatter around river beds. With that, we thought we were well on our way. We learned about the proteins, explored 3D printing, designed experiments and felt like we were going to change the world.   Then we traveled to Berkeley Biolabs where we attended a workshop and engaged with the design thinking process. At the workshop, we were challenged to create and present a pitch to everyone we met. We started to talk to people we met at the store, our families, and people sitting next to us at the airport. The main purpose of this was to collect information on how others perceived...
Spotlight on geekStarters: Ted Harrison Middle School

Spotlight on geekStarters: Ted Harrison Middle School

The youngest on our current team roster: Ted Harrison School Team Want to learn more about the team at Ted Harrison School? Here is what they shared with us recently. What is unique about your team? Any memorable moments? Our team uses design thinking to develop our idea and it is constantly changing and evolving with the feedback we get from others. A memorable moment was visiting IDEO and seeing how innovative and passionate the people are. What is your team’s favorite fun activity? What’s something your team does to bond? Arguing, making fun of each other. How does your team use social media? We use LinkedIn to seek experts that can help inform our project. How would you describe your team’s project in 3 sentences or less? It is a fusion between traditional and cutting edge technology that can remove pesticides in an environmental and sustainable fashion. What has been one highlight of working on your project so far? Coming together as a team and valuing everyone’s unique skill set and perspective. What is your team’s biggest challenge? Communicating with each other, and ensuring that we are still on the same page. What does your team look forward to the most this season? Testing our biobricks to see if they work the way we think they will. What do you hope to achieve by the end of this season? To have a working prototype. Where would you like to see your project go in the future? What are your team’s dreams for the future? Being recognized by an actual company that can compete with other personal water filtration...