Team:Calgary/Human Practices/Outreach/Presentations


University of Calgary



On October 14th, we had an opportunity to present at Western Canada High School to a group of interested students over the lunch hour. Interested students were invited to attend and we had a great turnout! Our presentation went so well that we were invited to stay to give the presentation again to a Biology 30 class after lunch. On Friday we also sent team members to William Aberhart, another high school in Calgary to give a presentation in a Biology 30 class.

In both presentations we gave the students some brief background information on synthetic biology and we talked a lot about the iGEM competition. We talked about how the competition works, the gals of the competition and we went over some of the projects that students have done in the past. This gave them an idea of some of the diverse applications of synthetic biology. We felt that this was important as it gives people a better idea of how cool science can actually be put into practice. We think this is a big part of iGEM, learning through doing things and getting to apply some of the things that you learn in class. We learned so much this summer and went far beyond what we learned in classes. We wanted to share this with high school students, maybe encouraging them to to think about summer research opportunities during their undergraduate years.

We spent some time going over the general idea of our project, focusing on the lab, Second Life and Human Practices. At the end, we gave the students a chance to ask questions. There were lots of questions about the competition itself and University of Calgary's previous participation. The students seemed really interested in iGEM as well as research opportunities in general. We had some questions about the kinds of research positions available to undergraduates. They were interested to hear that students in numerous faculties have opportunities to do research, not just in Science. We highlighted the diversity of our iGEM project indicating that it includes not only Biology, but also marketing, computer Sciences and Human Practices components.

Overall, both presentations were very positive experiences for our team. Not only did we have yet another chance to share our project with others, but we had a chance to practice talking to people who have no background knowledge on the subject. Although the students know have started basic genetics, they don't know what promoters, ribosomal binding sites or vectors are. You can't just throw out terms like 'qrr4 promoter' or 'PCR' and expect people to understand. Trying to explain our entire summer project in simple terms was a real challenge, but it helped us to further clarify our own knowledge. Next year we hope to do even more outreach activities with high school aged students as teaching others is a great way to push our own learning even farther.

Below, you can see some photos from the WCHS presentation. As well, to download a copy of the handout we gave out, click HERE.