Education and Engagement
Synthetic Biology Trivia Night!
One of our goals for this year was to further promote synthetic biology and Waterloo iGEM within the University of Waterloo community. To further engage and connect with our fellow students, we decided to organize and host a trivia night!
The prepared questions were designed to cover a wide range of topics in synthetic biology. As synthetic biology covers more than the work done within a laboratory setting, we wanted our questions to reflect that. Each of the questions fell into one of the following categories: history, applications, techniques and laboratory methods, microbes, policies, controversy, and global news.
We have made the questions and presentation available should future iGEM teams be interested in hosting their own version of a Trivia Night!
Questions + Answer Sheet
SHAD is a month-long entrepreneurship and enrichment program for students between the ages of 15-18. It offers youth the opportunity to visit a Canadian University, during the month of July, to take part in various STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) experiences. It allows them to learn various skills as well as gain incredible, hands-on experience through different lectures and workshops hosted by groups within the universities every week.1
Waterloo iGEM’s Involvement
The University of Waterloo is currently one of 17 Canadian Universities taking part in SHAD, and iGEM Waterloo has participated as a workshop host - catering the subjects to different areas of synthetic biology - over the past few years. This year, we were eager to share our knowledge and passion about our current project by hosting a workshop that was both a crash-course to our 2019 iGEM project, as well as to the different aspects of our team as a whole.
We hosted the students for three days and themed each day around an area of our project. The first day focused on human practices and had the students consider what ethical concerns needed to be addressed, who our project’s stakeholders were, and how they would approach the public with our product. Day two had the students in a lab on campus running through a bacterial miniprep; we asked them to pay close attention to how the theory they were previously taught was or was not representative of what they saw in practice. On the third and final day, we asked the students to model the behaviour of enzyme production within a cell in different conditions; as related to a company making its product depending on the size and interest of their market.
We asked the students at the beginning of the first day to fill in a survey regarding our project and had them take it again at the end of the third day. The goal of the survey was to gage how their opinions would change after being educated on and working within the areas of interest. This was done due to the results of our original survey, showing that the majority of our participants who felt unaware in forming an opinion/basing their opinion on what they had seen online as opposed to learned in lectures. Overall, it was found that the SHAD students became more or continued to be accepting of the synthetic biology techniques utilized by our team and that they supported the goals or our project. For further analysis of both the SHAD and original surveys performed, please see Science Communication.
The Science Showcase is an annual event hosted by the University of Waterloo’s Science Society at the beginning of September each year. The purpose of the event is to allow the students of the science faculty to meet and interact with the different science clubs, groups, and teams in order to join and be made aware of upcoming events and opportunities.
We use the showcase to connect with students interested in applying for our team in the following January as well as to share our current project with the student population. By sharing our project, we gain insight into the public’s opinion of the work we are doing and their reaction to it. This helps us understand how we can better present the material in the future.
 SHAD Canada. 2019. About SHAD. Retrieved 2019 from https://www.shad.ca/about-shad/