University of Alberta - BioBytes


Heritage Youth Researcher Summer Program – Tues August 4th

This was a 15 minute presentation followed by 5 minutes for questions. A survey was collected from the audience. The presentation was attended by 19 students who had just finished Grade 11 and were working in a medical research lab for six weeks in the summer.

Students were very interested in the applications for synthetic biology; we gave some examples of other iGEM projects. We mentioned the idea of bacteria producing asphalt so they could re-grow roads with cracks in them, and the students thought that was very cool. I would suggest for future presentations we spend more time on synthetic biology in general and give more examples of other synthetic biology research.

For the powerpoint presentation, click here.

We've also posted the front and back sides of the pamphlets we gave out during the presentation.

Africa Centre Summer Camp – Thursday August 5th

This was a 1 hour presentation for students in Grade 6-9 at a summer camp for African children.

Part I: Exploring the genetic basis of traits using PTC paper to test for a genetic difference in tasting ability.

Part II: Isolating strawberry DNA using a simple extraction buffer and isopropanol.

Part III: Building with DNA using a velcro model. Students were challenged to use the concept of sticky single stranded ends to build a plasmid out of velcro pieces.

Part IV: Discussion of what synthetic biology is and what it can do.

For a complete lesson plan, click here.

Students were very excited by the DNA extraction. One grouped perfectly solved the velcro problem in about 5 minutes, and the other groups had similar ideas. They really liked squishing the agarose gel, though it was distracting from the discussion. They had a lot of questions about what’s possible with genetic engineering, and particularly if humans could be genetically engineered. Some examples we discussed were making organisms glow (GFP), human gene therapy, human cloning, and genetic muscle enhancement (myostatin). Some of them already knew the term genetic engineering, and most recognized DNA as being in bodily fluids and a type of ‘fingerprint’, but initially didn’t know much more.

Old Scona Academic High School Ethics Debate Presentation - October 9th

For details, see the Ethics Debate, Debate Outreach tab.

Archbishop MacDonald High School Presentations - October 16th

Two 1 hour presentations were done for Biology 30 classes. These presentations described the field of synthetic biology, introduced our project, and explained molecular lab techniques. We included hands-on activities such as extracting strawberry DNA and assembling plasmids out of velcro. We also brought agarose gels and DNA binding magnetic beads from our lab to show students. To view this presentation, click here.

Idlewyld Library, Edmonton Public Libraries Science and Technology Week - October 17th

This 1 hour presentation was for children ages ten and up. Our presentation was similar to that for the Africa Centre Summer Camp described above.

Sprucewood Library, Edmonton Public Libraries Science and Technology Week - October 24th

Similar to the presentation for Idlewyld Library.

Medicine Hat College Presentation - November 13th

This is a presentation to first and second year students in genetics and biochemistry. The presentation focuses on what is synthetic biology, how it impacts the public, and how students can get involved.

WISEST SET Conference for high school girls - November 28th

We'll do four sessions of a lab excerise to introduce high school students to molecular techniques. Students will do a gel extraction with and without sodium acetate.

Ross Shepard High School Presentation - January

This will be a 1 hour presentation for Grade 12 biology students, describing the field of synthetic biology, our project, and molecular lab techniques.