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 plastic sorting game to play with members of the public and school community in order to show them what sorting is like in the actual facility and how human error impacts the process. We have also run Syn Bio workshops at the Banff Science Fair, attended recycling conferences, engaged experts in the field, and hope to meet lots more teams through MindFuel and iGEM!

 What does your team hope to achieve by the end of this season?

iGEM Jamboree! Golden Biobrick!

 Where would you like to see your project go in the future?

We would love to see our bio-tag implemented in recycling plants.

• What is one thing your team appreciates about geekStarter?

We appreciate the support throughout our project journey, and all of the awesome people we have met through geekStarter. We couldn’t do the things we do without our amazing mentors, and they teach us SO much.