geekStarter Teams Updates – June 2018

Here are some recent updates from our high-school teams. Read on… Lethbridge High School iGEM 2018 – Lethbridge We have had a very exciting month! Here are some highlights. We presented our project “Control-Salt-Delete” at geekStarter’s High School Jamboree on May 26 and won the Best Opportunity Analysis award and an $1800 iGEM travel bursary. Both the University of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Herald had articles on our success in Canmore. Our BioTreks paper won 6 badges and our student Michelle Wu got special recognition for her participation in the BioTreks conference. The team has participated in calculus and math modeling workshops led by mentor Chris Isaac. All members have completed their WHMIS training and we had our first wet lab workshop on June 16 – 17. DNA constructs have been designed and will be ordered very soon. The team is looking forward to a coding workshop in July and getting into the lab to start on their project. Father Patrick Mercredi High School: RSports Robotics Group – Fort McMurray The RSports group was acknowledged at our annual district Celebration of Excellence ceremony with a certificate. The Tackle Dummy is now in fabrication phase. The students finished the CAD models and are now fabricating with the welder. Motors have been stripped and encoders removed. Currently we are dealing with electrical issues due to the very large current draw on the system as a result of the 300lb robot! Students are working with an electrical engineer to resolve this. Notre Dame Collegiate Synthetic Biology Team – High River On June 15, team mentor Robert Mayall came to our school for a third school workshop. He helped us finish our...
Spotlight on geekStarters: Erin Kelly

Spotlight on geekStarters: Erin Kelly

The photo shows Erin Kelly (centre) with two members of the Lethbridge HS iGEM team – Nimaya DeSilva (left) and Candace Chan (right) – at the 2017 iGEM Giant Jamboree in Boston (photo courtesy of the iGEM Foundation and Justin Knight) 10 Quick Questions for Erin How would you describe yourself in one sentence? I am enthusiastic and meticulous about science and education, and I love to be challenged. What do you love the most about your work/school? I have the freedom to do the research I am interested in and the incredible support from my Professors. What is your best accomplishment so far? Optimizing the purification of the protein Cbf5 in my lab. This is a protein that I have studied for years and it’s very unstable. The new purification strategy has made my work and others’ work much easier. What is something you are working towards right now? Completing my MSc in Biochemistry at the Alberta RNA Research and Training Institute at the University of Lethbridge and starting medical school at the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine. How do you like to spend your downtime? Hiking or skiing, depending on the season. What is something you can’t imagine your life without? My group of friends are the most supportive people and I would not be able to do the things I do without them. What is one thing that people will be surprised to hear about you? I have never participated on a collegiate iGEM team, I have only been involved with high school teams, either as a student or as an instructor. What is something you are...

geekStarter Jamboree and Workshop: Teams Share Projects and Gain Expert Feedback

On May 26-27, 2018, geekStarter high-school teams gathered together to share their projects, learn from experts and mentors, and celebrate their accomplishments. The highly anticipated weekend consisted of two events co-hosted with Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy in Canmore: May 26: geekStarter High School Jamboree May 27: geekStarter High School iGEM workshop At the Jamboree on Saturday, the teams presented their work in front of a panel of judges, and received feedback and practical tips for improving their projects and prospects as entrepreneurs. The following individuals participated as judges and generously shared their real-world expertise and insights. Alexis Hope – Designer and Researcher, MIT Media Lab Emily Marasco – PhD candidate, E.I.T., Education Specialist, EZ-Robot Inc. Julie Legault – CEO and Founder, Amino Labs Justin Pahara – CSO, Amino Labs Nolan Liss – Founder, Arcane Lights Patrick Wu – Biotechnology Business Development Consultant Sandi Boga – Director of Innovation, ATB Financial Ms. Emily Marasco also gave a presentation on ‘Effective Communication for Science and Engineering’ – a highly engaging skill building session that captivated the entire audience. At the end of the day, the teams were presented with Certificates and Special Awards in recognition of their accomplishments and progress – as indicated below. Father Mercredi High School Robotics (Fort McMurray): building a bear robot decoy for training protection dogs for workers on oil sand sites, and football tackle robot for reducing player injury and for collecting data to inform coaching – Special Award for Growing and mobilizing the STEM community – presented by Alexis Hope Lethbridge High School Synthetic Biology/iGEM team (Lethbridge): developing a cost effective method for making drinking water from ocean water through desalination – Special Award for Best opportunity analysis – presented by Sandi Boga Nexus Robotics (Calgary): programming autonomous behaviours into human-operated robots to improve their ability for avoiding collisions – Special...
Spotlight on geekStarters: Syn Bio Team at Our Lady of the Snows

Spotlight on geekStarters: Syn Bio Team at Our Lady of the Snows

OLS team members present their project in front of an audience including Pepper the robot on May 9, 2018 Check out this recent interview with the syn bio team from Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy in Canmore, and learn about their plans for the rest of this season and beyond. • What is unique about your team? Any memorable moments? We are a very diverse team. We have students from grades 7-11, a variety of interests including robotics and graphic design, and we use those strengths and interest areas to create a cohesive team. • How would you describe your team’s project in 3 sentences or less? We are trying to use synthetic biology to create a bio-tag which will mark PET plastics for more efficient sorting. At the moment, plastics are poorly recycled (generally landfilled), due mostly to issues with efficient sorting. A PET-specific colored bio-tag, combined with an optical sorting device (our robotics component) will hopefully provide proof of concept for new directions for a circular plastic life cycle. • What has been one highlight of working on your project so far? Being able to make a difference. • What is your team’s biggest challenge? Identifying the safety and ethics for our project, and modelling a way to realistically implement this on a scaled-up level. • What is your team’s favourite fun activity? What’s something your team does to bond? Having such a diverse team of people of all ages makes bonding and connection difficult, however we spend the first 45 minutes of our weekly meetings eating and talking with one another. • What are some ways in which your team connects and collaborates with the wider community? We are planning a...

geekStarter Teams Updates – May 2018

Curious what geekStarter’s high school teams have been up to over the past few weeks? Here are their recent updates. Read on… Ross Sheppard High School Innovation Club – Edmonton FPV drones – We have been reaching out to various clubs, classes and programs to facilitate promotional videos using aerial drone footage. Also, our school is undergoing a renovation and we have been asked to capture some footage of the newly renovated spaces. One of our team members is using skills learned in the photography class to edit together the promo videos. The videos will be used for various reasons, including the school website. Rocket with self deploying parachute and gas sensors – Altitude sensor is programmed and ready to be installed in rocket. We are currently building the rocket capsule housing for the microprocessor and the self deploying parachute. The gas/CO2 sensor is working and will be used in classroom lesson planning in conjunction with a ‘Let’s Talk Science’ project. Self driving car – The car is operational from the laptop but not yet on the track. Work in progress!! Future collaboration – We plan to visit the hacker space ‘The Shack’ at UofA, and see some of the cool projects they have created. Hopefully our team members will be able to access the space regularly in the future, and receive mentorship and inspiration from UofA students and volunteers. Lethbridge High School iGEM 2018 – Lethbridge We have completed a lot in the last month! Here are some highlights: Control – Salt – Delete: Our project revolves around designing a biological system to help in the desalination of water Our BioTreks paper was submitted and we participated in the BioTreks conference on April 28th The team has been organized into smaller...