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...
Spotlight on geekStarters: Dennis Kim

Spotlight on geekStarters: Dennis Kim

Dennis Kim – member of the 2014 Calgary iGEM team and dedicated geekStarter mentor ever since 10 Quick Questions for Dennis How would you describe yourself in one sentence? I work hard, play harder and… probably worry the hardest. What do you love the most about your work/school? I love learning new scientific concepts and trying to integrate them into my current understanding of the world. Discussing your interpretations with like-minded people certainly makes it more fun and enriching. I think science makes you feel like a permanent tourist in the world and that’s great! What is your best accomplishment so far? I would say my role in the 2014 Calgary iGEM team. It was the first time I got to participate in a major project outside of the classroom with my peers, while directly applying what I learned in school. The skills and memories I received through the iGEM Calgary team are some of my most cherished from university. What is something you are working towards right now? Over the long term, I am working towards becoming a physician so I can serve with the Canadian Forces overseas. For now, I am getting my finances in order to hopefully meet this goal. How do you like to spend your downtime? I enjoy watching movies, reading pop physics books and trying unusual foods. If time permits, I also like taking long, scenic drives to national parks on the weekend. What is something you can’t imagine your life without? Definitely my family – they are a constant source of support and I owe all of my accomplishments to their encouragement in some part....

geekStarter Teams Updates – March 2018

Wondering what has been going on with the geekStarter high-school teams over the past few weeks? Here are some recent updates they have sent us. Read on… NEXUS Robotics – Calgary Having already planned how to combine autonomous behaviours with a human operator so our robot could predict and avoid collisions, we started research into behavioural algorithms. At the same time, we begun training on roles and responsibilities for the development of the FR competition robot. We want to use this robot to test our collision prediction and avoidance solution that we are aiming to build. To support algorithm development and testing, we also completed mini-bot builds. With the planning complete, our team split in two. The FIRST robot team began designing the competition robot, while the geekStarter team continued learning behavioural programming and started working with sensors. The FIRST team had 6 weeks to design, order materials and build the robot. They used Computer Aided Design (CAD) to model the robot’s physical components and estimate the raw materials required for building it. Based on this, they decided to use Aluminum and ordered all the materials included the electronics systems and propulsion components. Meanwhile, the team continued to use CAD to refine and get the final dimensions of the robot’s components in preparation for cutting and shaping the Aluminum parts. The actual construction started in week four of the six week period allowed for build. With the build stop date approaching, the team knuckled down, finishing up at 10 pm on the last day, February 20th. As the FRC robot build progressed, the geekStarter team evaluated different sensors for object detection and object tracking, and eventually settled on using infrared sensors and acoustic sensors, respectively. Typically, acoustic sensors have a high background noise and work inconsistently. Therefore,...