2020(S11) Lecture:week 1

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Week 1 Tuesday


After a short introduction to the who/what/why for this class, we'll start handling the programming material that's at our fingertips...in our fingertips, even! As you work through this DNA isolation protocol below, be mindful of your questions and your own reactions to this activity. Is this the first time you've ever handled a lump of DNA? How hard is it to isolate DNA, both technically speaking and in terms of the needed equipment? What surprised you? What did you learn and what questions do you still have? What could you do next with this material you've isolated?

DNA from a Strawberry

  1. Pair up and pick up a ziplock baggie with a strawberry in it. IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO STRAWBERRIES, please don't do this part.
  2. Push the air out of the baggie as best you can and reseal it.
  3. Being careful not to break the baggie, mash the strawberry with your fingers for ~2 minutes.
  4. Using a medicine cup to measure it, add 10 ml of extraction buffer to the baggie. Extraction buffer is a mixture of 20 ml dish soap, 1.5 tsp of table salt, a sprinkle of meat tenderizer, and 380 ml of spring water.
  5. Mash the strawberry for one minute more.
  6. Place a funnel over a 3oz. bathroom cup.
  7. Fold a piece of cheesecloth into a ~4 inch square and place it in the funnel.
  8. Pour the strawberry mush into the funnel and allow gravity to do its work. You'll throw away the strawberry mush and cheesecloth into the trash, and return the funnel to the kit.
  9. Carefully pour 2 ml of the filtered strawberry juice into a clean, conical tube, using the markings on the side of the tube to know how much to transfer.
  10. Hold the tube at an angle and, using an eye-dropper, carefully DRIBBLE a 5 ml layer of cold 95% Ethanol or 70% isopropanol (your choice) onto the strawberry goop. DO NOT MIX the layers.
  11. Now watch...after a few minutes you should start to see some bubbles, then some white stringy stuff, which is the DNA.
  12. There will be coffee stirrers to remove the DNA from the tube if you'd like to do that. The DNA is best removed by "spooling"--i.e. winding the DNA around the stick with a gentle twirl of stick.
Why are we doing this??

Let's return to the questions from the start of the day:

  • Was this the first time you've ever handled a lump of DNA?
    • Is it what you thought it would look like?
    • Is there more or less than you thought there'd be?
  • How do you know it's DNA?
  • How hard was it to isolate DNA,
    • technically speaking?
    • needed equipment?
  • What surprised you?
  • What did you learn and what questions do you now have?
    • Where did you finally put the DNA you isolated?
    • What did you do with it after you isolated it?
    • Is it OK to just throw it away?

Week 1 Studio

Wednesday matinee

Instructions: Today you will have the opportunity to watch a video showcasing completed iGEM projects. "iGEM" stands for the "international Genetically Engineered Machines" competition. It is a summer-long opportunity for teams of students working at colleges and universities around the world to design and build genetically engineered machines, many of which use standard biological parts from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts. The video will orient you to the kinds of accomplishments realized in a summer by teams of undergraduates and their advisers.

Our feature presentation

Eau D'coli
Our featured presentation will emphasize some of the "engineering" that can be accomplished in a summer by a talented group of undergrads much like yourselves. We'll listen to

Their project will allow us to focus on

    • programming genetic logic, growth phases of bacterial cultures, ethical questions of human experimentation
      • our ppt review of these processes is here

After the presentation

You will have 10 minutes to gather with your fellow moviegoers and discuss what you saw, using these "iGEM review questions" as a guide for your conversations:

  1. what was the problem this team chose to address and why?
  2. is this an important problem and why or why not?
  3. did they succeed in part or in total?
  4. are there aspects of the work that are unclear to you?
  5. if you could ask this team one question what would it be?

Our second feature

There have been many wonderful projects from teams over the years, but to narrow down the number of possible choices, let's look at the projects from recent MIT teams. As a class we'll choose one of the following videos to watch and discuss:

Once we watch the video,

As homework you were asked to draft a letter describing a real world problem or opportunity you have inherited that could be addressed in the near term. You should discuss these letters at your team tables and make some notes about them on the white boards. For example,

  • who were they addressed to?
  • how many problems/opportunities did each letter address?
  • what areas were tackled?
  • how many also proposed solutions to these problems?

After about an hour of discussion at your tables, you'll have a chance to hear from the other groups. Be sure to take notes on your letter about any new ideas, clarifications, or thoughts you have from the discussion. You will turn in a revised letter before tomorrow. (and note that if you've finished your discussion about the letters early you can get to work on the homework below).

  • The MIT team made some "on the fly" adjustments to their project based on early data collected. For instance they decided to control the banana smell for expression in stationary phase since the smell overwhelmed the wintergreen. Could they have used a computer simulation of their system to make this decision? Why or why not?

When you are finished, please upload your assignment to your "Personal Design Portfolio" in the homework dropbox., calling your assignment: FirstInitial_LastName_PDP_1.doc, for example: B_Obama_PDP_1.doc


Week 1 Thursday

==Why are we doing this?==