geekStarter Teams Updates – January 2019

Energized from the winter break, geekStarter high school and middle school teams are excited to be back working on their projects. Here are some recent updates they sent us. Father Patrick Mercredi High School: RSports Robotics Group – Fort McMurray The team meets twice during weekdays and on Saturdays, and is working on several projects using robotics to solve real-world problems: Using robotics to animate stage props for a local theater production – The team constructed animated toys and an expandable cake for a local production of Mary Poppins. The reviews were fantastic! Using drones to create 3D images from above for media and emergency services – The team has been training and experimenting on three different drone platforms, and is figuring out how to use the auto-track mode to obtain better quality images.   A bear robot decoy to train protection dogs at oil sand sites – Coding for this project is being finalized and the robot is ready for foam and bear cape. The team plans to finish this robot in the next couple of weeks. Using underwater drones to monitor invasive species in waterways – The team learned to operate their ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) and map its surroundings in a staged pool environment. They continue to practice and prepare for the spring deployment in local waterways, waiting for the spring thaw or an ice dive, pending a safety diver. Building a football tackle robot to reduce player injury and collect data to inform coaching – The power system for this 300+lbs robot proved to be more challenging than expected. The team had to design a higher amperage system and purchase...

Meet the geekStarter 2018-19 Mentors

Mentors bring huge value to the geekStarter high-school program, and our 2018-19 teams are lucky to work with an amazing group of mentors. Let us introduce them! Chris Isaac – Specialist/on-call mentor, synthetic biology Chris is a graduate student studying Alzheimer’s Disease using bioinformatics at the University of Lethbridge and former Johns Hopkins University Emerging Leader in Biosecurity. He first became involved in iGEM in 2012 as a High School student, and now volunteers on the iGEM Security and iGEM Insights committees. Chris is a geekStarter mentor because he believes that synthetic biology has the potential to change the world, and that students are going to be the ones to do it. Dennis Kim – Specialist/on-call mentor, synthetic biology Dennis received his BHSc. in Biomedical Science from the University of Calgary in 2017. His iGEM experience began in 2014 with the University of Calgary team, which took on the task of developing an on-site diagnostic tool for malaria to be used in the developing world. He has been a geekStarter mentor for teams from Ted Harrison School, Central Memorial High School and Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy. Dennis supports geekStarter in offering unique and invaluable learning experiences to students interested in the life sciences. Dustin Hall – Team mentor, Lacombe Composite High School, robotics Dustin Hall works as a Process Automation E.I.T. at the DOW Chemical company at Prentiss AB. In his spare time he enjoys hosting board game nights and traveling with his wife, Jamie. Dustin has been mentoring Lacombe high school students for FIRST robotics with a focus on leveraging his control systems & safe work knowledge. He has joined geekStarter to...
Spotlight on geekStarters: Ethan Agena

Spotlight on geekStarters: Ethan Agena

Meet Ethan who first joined the program in 2016 as a high-school student on UrbanTundra iGEM team. 10 Quick Questions for Ethan How would you describe yourself in one sentence? I am currently a chemical engineering student who finds himself doing everything but school! 2. What do you love the most about your work/school? I love that my degree program is very flexible which means that I can pursue industries that I am interested in, like biomanufacturing! What is your best accomplishment so far? Being able to get to school by 8AM for a whole week now! What is something you are working towards right now? I am currently working on a research project that aims to improve plastic degrading enzymes. How do you like to spend your downtime? I enjoy watching channels like SciShow and Seeker on YouTube and drawing/painting. What is something you can’t imagine your life without? “Avatar: The Last Airbender” What is one thing that people will be surprised to hear about you? I’m still an iGEMer, three years and counting! What is something you are afraid of? I am afraid of spilling coffee on my laptop. What would you like your work to be ten years from now? Not sure yet… hopefully, I will be graduated by then! What is one thing you appreciate about geekStarter? I truly appreciate how geekStarter inspires and connects people. Many doors were opened for me because of...

Meet geekStarter’s 2018-2019 High-School and Middle-School Teams

We are excited to welcome our 2018-2019 middle-school and high-school teams and wish them good luck on their projects! RSports – Father Patrick Mercredi HS – Fort McMurray This returning team is working on several projects with their local community: a) A football tackle robot to reduce player injury and collect data to inform coaching ; b) A bear robot decoy to train protection dogs at oil sand sites; c) Using underwater drones to monitor invasive species in waterways; d) Using drones to create 3D images from above for media and emergency services; e) Using robotics to animate stage props for a local theater production. Lethbridge High School iGEM – Lethbridge This returning team based at University of Lethbridge will start recruiting new members and launch its 2019 iGEM activities soon. The goal of their 2018 iGEM project was the removal of heavy metal contaminants from tailings ponds and wastewater using synthetic biology.  United Robotics of Lacombe – Lacombe Composite HS – Lacombe This new team plans to build a robotic dog to scare birds and animals away from gardens and farm land. Notre Dame Collegiate Synthetic Biology – High River This returning team will continue to work on their synthetic biology solution for breaking down fatty buildup in sewage pipes, while developing their skills and training their new team members. The team has recently hosted a Parents Night Synthetic Biology Celebration. The team also hosted the High River Girls Guides as part of their science badge, and taught them about bacteria and synthetic biology. The students used the Amino Labs Canvas Kit to paint with bacteria and immortalized their work using the Amino Labs Keep-It Kit so that they could take them...
Spotlight on geekStarters: Father Mercredi High School Robotics in Fort McMurray

Spotlight on geekStarters: Father Mercredi High School Robotics in Fort McMurray

Go RSports! Meet the Robotics Team at Father Patrick Mercredi High School in Fort McMurray Check out this recent interview with the team, and learn about their plans for this season and beyond. • What is unique about your team? Any memorable moments? Our team started as a group of individuals interested in Robotics and Technology. What is notable is that most of our members knew very little about robotics when they started.  What has held us together and motivated our work is our combined interest and desire to learn and embrace the technology. Most memorable for our team have been the connections we have made in our community, the mentorships and partnerships that drive most of our work. • How would you describe your team’s project in 3 sentences or less? Our current project is multifaceted but essentially it is to solve problems through the use of robotics and its associated technologies. • What has been one highlight of working on your project so far? What has made working on this project a highlight for most of us is the response we have received from the community members we have worked with. The support and encouragement has motivated our team to work even harder to achieve relevance and validity. • What is your team’s biggest challenge? We have had no shortage of challenges but the greatest has been gaining the necessary technological knowledge and skills to complete our projects.  Through professional mentorship and research our team has been able to maintain our project momentum. • What is your team’s favourite fun activity? What’s something your team does to bond? The team meets regularly but Saturdays are...