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SynBio for Schools: Ideas Meeting on 7 Oct

Synthetic biology applies design and engineering approaches to biology, and promises to contribute solutions to pressing global challenges. The success of this highly interdisciplinary field depends not only on skills as diverse as molecular biology, computer modelling, engineering, social sciences and design, but also an ability of individuals to build bridges across disciplines. The Synthetic Biology for Schools project aims to bring together a set of activities and resources to enable school groups and science clubs to explore the synthetic biology space.
When Oct 07, 2016
from 04:30 PM to 06:30 PM
Where Classroom, Cambridge Makespace, 16 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX
Contact Name
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We invite you to join the meeting at 4.30pm on 7th October at Cambridge Makespace. Maybe you already have educational activities and resources that can be shared and fit into this context (including, but not limited to molecular biology, engineering, standards and modularisation, circuitry, computer modelling, responsible research and innovation). Maybe you are interested in developing new synthetic biology learning resources, or maybe you are interested in new activities that you can use to engage school pupils or the public.

This meeting coincides with the Co-Lab Big Making Weekend run by the Open Science School so that people from this event can also attend. Please check out their event pages if you would like to get involved in some of the ongoing projects.

There will be a second meeting and 1-day hackathon in Norwich in November (date TBC) for those who wish to join. It will not be essential to attend both meetings.

Please register here >> 


Project Overview

Synthetic biologists in Norwich and Cambridge and collaborators from the Open Science SchoolThe SAW Trust, and Universidad Catolica (Chile) are working on several ideas for developing educational materials, tools and practicals to bring multidisciplinary science and synthetic biology into schools. Some of these resources are already in development. In addition, open hardware is being created that could be used by schools to support practicals in this area. While each of these resources are valuable on their own, by bringing them together there is an opportunity for increasing their reach and effectiveness, and therefore their overall impact. 

In this project we propose to i) identify relevant activities, resources and amterials and bring them together into a comprehensive set to explain the principles, tools and applications of synthetic biology; ii) develop video and infographic materials that provide a context for these resources; iii) bring together key stakeholders and facilitate discussions with potential end users, and; iv) identify routes for dissemination and create an action plan to maximise their use. 

The outcome will be a complete package of activities, supporting information and hardware that can be successfully used in schools to introduce synthetic biology with a focus on plants, and to provide learning opportunities across a wide range of disciplines. Our intention within the scope of this project is to target the resources for schools in the local area, but we are also looking at national and international opportunities for dissemination. Initially we are looking at targetting school groups and science clubs from GCSE level on, but we will keep an open mind about target groups as there may be opportunities to pitch the resources towards different groups such as undergraduates, DIY bio communities and the general public.

This project is funded by an OpenPlant Fund mini-grant.

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The Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative provides a hub for anyone interested in Synthetic Biology at the University of Cambridge, as well as commercial partners and external collaborators.