Team:Victoria Australia/Passport/Spring Workshop


Revision as of 16:17, 20 October 2009 by Muriel aldunate (Talk | contribs)
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Challenge one - navigating the Tokyo Metro
Challenge two- navigating the University of Tokyo campus map!
Spring workshop itinerary
Three wise men of iGEM

The trip to Tokyo began with a mad dash for the two students attending, Muriel Aldunate and Candice Raeburn, as they rushed to the airport straight from their last exam. As iGEM began in USA and expanded to become an international competition, sometimes the dates and deadlines can be a little tricky for those not following the USA semester structure. Nonetheless the two students arrived at Narita thoroughly exhausted and excited to seek out their instructor, Dr. Leonard Pattenden, who had flown out the day before. After a couple of “detours” including purchasing the wrong tickets, cockroaches in inconvenient places, nearly being run over and with the help of a friendly convenience store clerk who left work to play navigator, the girls eventually found their way to their accommodation, forgot to take off their shoes, and slumped into bed to slumber the journey away in preparation for the iGEM 2009 Spring workshop.

The next morning saw more disorientation as the group tried to navigate its way around the Tokyo. After walking past their destination and trying to make sense of a plethora of maps, a kind stranger pointed them in the right direction and they finally made it to the Takeda Building – or did they? In the knowledge they would probably get lost (and perhaps among mis-setting of watches) the group left so early they had arrived even before the iGEM organisers, wandering around the grounds until eventually some other lost-looking souls appeared with whom they could coalesce and talk about all things iGEM.

"Synthetic biology is nanotecnology that works" Tom Knight begins by speaking passionately about the field that stole him away from what could have been a life of straight computer science. Tom and his team from MIT went on to give a little history and background on the roots of Synthetic Biology, the evolution of iGEM and the BioBrick concept. After a quick lunch it was back to the drawing board as we went through the navigation of the competition itself – forming ideas, setting achievable goals, using the iGEM website interface and construction using the BioBricks provided. We were then led by our kind hosts at Tokyo University through the awe-inspiring Ueno park to a restaurant where the teams could mingle over food and sake.

Day two started with the breakfast of champions - sticky rice balls wraped in seaweed filled with seasoned meat from 7/11 and hot coffee from a vending machine (where you can also purchase liquor if you insert a valid ID). The workshop (much easier to find this time) continued with detailed instructions on BioBricks and the procedure for submitting to the registry. Thoughout the workshop, participants are called upon to be a part of “team example” where they can go through the steps in real time – a brilliant idea which made the process both understandable and memorable. A wonderful lunch of Bento boxes was provided, beverages among which were “Calpis” (pronounced cow-piss which met many giggles from the Australian teams) and ice cold tea. Finally safety was addressed, iGEM partners and special deals were announced, awards were detailed and the Asia workshop was completed.

The RMIT and UQ teams then went shopping for robots in Akihabara then parted ways, filled with notes on their rivals and a few whisps of comradery too. Dr Pattenden boarded a train back to Narita to return home, and Candi and Muriel accidently caught the wrong train to Nikko to begin their Japanese adventure.

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Making friends with members of the Kyoto University iGEM team