BioBuilding: Synthetic Biology for Students
Eau That Smell Lab
BioBuilding for Students
Welcome! We’re glad you’re here. You’ve found a place where the most amazing technology, namely biology, is under construction.
The world is filled with examples of robust, self-assembling, self-correcting systems--- you, for example! Imagine all that’s possible if we could intelligently apply what we know about the living world to solve its problems.
What would you build from biology if you could build anything? Maybe specialized cells that travel along in your body to diagnose or treat a disease? Maybe some yeast that bake biofuel instead of bread? How about plants that grow into tree houses large enough for people to live in? Or maybe you’d want to purify contaminated drinking water by sprinkling an algae sponge on the surface?
These ideas are more fiction than science. That can change, but before it does, we first have to get much better in the engineering of living systems. Other engineering disciplines have a lot to teach us. Nature has a lot to teach us. With the BioBuilding activities you’ll find here, you can start learning.
What is Synthetic Biology?
Synthetic biology relies on all the facts from those thick biology textbooks and some of the tried and true principles of engineering. It puts them together to make and model useful living systems. Best case scenario for synthetic biology: we make novel systems that work reliably and address important world problems. Worst case scenario: the systems we build fail the first time…and the second and third… possibly failing in surprising or dangerous ways. So at this early stage in synthetic biology both the successes and the failures have a lot to teach us. And though we still have a long way to go before it’s easy to genetically program cells to perform particular tasks, you’ll learn a lot by trying. And if you share your successes and failures with our BioBuilding community, you’ll advance everyone’s understanding—and in this way advance this new field.
What you’ll find here
Each of the activities you'll find here focuses on a different, but related, aspect of biology and engineering:
BioBuilder.orgBioBuilder website. BioBuilder.org provides animations to explore the underpinnings of synthetic biology, with links to the activities you find here. Feel free to look around. All the content is modular and so can be looked at in any order and at any time.
Once you've tried the activities that are here, please share your data with the BioBuilder community! You'll be able to see how your findings compare to other players. It will help us all learn how to better build with biology. Plus, we'd love to hear how your construction projects are going.