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,...
Spotlight on geekStarters: Innovations Club at Ross Sheppard High School

Spotlight on geekStarters: Innovations Club at Ross Sheppard High School

Flight mission – Photo of Ross Sheppard team members taken by their FPV drone Check out this recent interview with the robotics team from Ross Sheppard High School in Edmonton, and learn about their plans for the 2017-18 season and beyond. • What is unique about your team? Any memorable moments? We have the freedom to be creative and build hands on electronic projects. A recent memorable moment: During our recent open house, we were showing off some of our drones. One of our team members tested the speed of one of the drones by flying it as fast as he could towards a teacher’s stomach. Important side note: The teacher was willing and prepared for the test! Unfortunately, the tester had forgotten to change one of the settings and the drone didn’t stop. Instead, it bounced off the teacher’s stomach and then the wall, returning to its flight in the hallway unscathed!! There was a crowd of parents and prospective students watching and they all thought it was part of the act!! It all turned out very funny and very dramatic! • How would you describe your team’s project in 3 sentences or less? We utilize 3D printing and open source materials, such as instructions, code and 3D printing files, to build and program self driving racing cars, drones, and rockets with self deploying parachutes. • What has been one highlight of working on your project so far? Capturing aerial footage using our drone. • What is your team’s biggest challenge? Troubleshooting code! Our self driving cars, and the ball following car didn’t work right away. The open source code needed to be de-bugged before it worked. Once the self driving car is operational, we will continue to modify the code and...

geekStarter Teams Updates – January 2018

The new year has started well for geekStarter teams. Here are some recent updates they shared with us. Our Lady of the Snows Synthetic Biology and Robotics Club – Canmore OLS SynBio continues to focus on a plastic that will use a biological construct to improve the sorting of plastics at recovery centers. The team is deep into research on the structure of plastic hydrocarbons, industry standards for dying, marking, sorting and recycling of plastics, and more. It has been challenging to find a way to construct a device that will work – it is possible that the team will still need to pivot our project direction in order to make it achievable in our lab. OLS SynBio recently participated in geekStarter’s start-up event, and gained a lot of experience and insight into the entrepreneurship aspects of our project, and biotech in general.  We continue to meet twice weekly to research and outreach in our community, and have a full-day workshop planned with our mentors Lisa and David for February 2nd.  This workshop will solidify our project idea and plan. We recently received sponsorship from New England Biolabs, covering the cost of several of our lab reagents and enzymes (about $500 value).  We will be applying for an Alberta Government CIP travel grant, as well as a Town of Canmore grant in the coming weeks. Ross Sheppard High School Innovation Club – Edmonton Self driving and racing Raspberry Pi cars: We have been modifying and troubleshooting code on our original tank bots, but this proved trickier than expected. We will soon get new cars that have different drives on the raspberry pis, and their GitHub code...
Spotlight on geekStarters: Sydnee Calhoun

Spotlight on geekStarters: Sydnee Calhoun

Sydnee Calhoun – member of 2017 ULethbridge iGEM team and dedicated mentor of the Lethbridge High School iGEM team – stands by her team’s poster at the iGEM Giant Jamboree in in Boston.   10 Quick Questions for Sydnee How would you describe yourself in one sentence? An all-around science nerd that loves to learn about new concepts and have discussions with people from all backgrounds. What do you love the most about your work/school? I have really been enjoying my higher-level biology and biochemistry classes. Most of them are covering the theory that I have been putting into practice through iGEM for the past 3 years. They are also going into further detail about recent advancements that have occurred, which is always intriguing! What is your best accomplishment so far? I think my best accomplishment was last year’s iGEM season. The Lethbridge High School team created a cool project on making eco-friendly ink from E. coli that a lot of people loved at the Jamboree. The Lethbridge Collegiate team also had a fantastic season and our project on developing a system to make synthetic biology more accessible was nominated for several awards. I am proud of both of my teams and all the hard-work that we put in to have successful seasons! What is something you are working towards right now? I am currently doing preparatory work for my honour’s thesis that I will be starting this summer. How do you like to spend your downtime? Outside of iGEM, I am involved with an outreach program called Destination Exploration at the University of Lethbridge that aims on teaching...