BioBuilding: Synthetic Biology for Teachers: Essay

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Essay Topic

Do the potential contributions to society warrant the potential risks inherent in synthetic biology?


Synthetic biology has emerged only recently as an engineering discipline. At this point, the field has more potential than accomplishment. Some people see an incredible potential that includes cures for diseases, biosynthetic fuels and houses that are grown from gourds. Other people question the safety of a process that involves altering genomes.

“Fab Tree Hab Village”

Students are asked to investigate synthetic biology using the following resources:

Decoding Synthetic Biology (YouTube)
What is synthetic biology?( pdf)
A Life of Its Own ( pdf)
Our Synthetic Futures
Faking Organisms
Hand-made biology
The Risks and Rewards of Synthetic Biology

  • some links to older articles:

How to Make Life
Life Reinvented
The Promise and Perils of Synthetic Biology

  • you may also wish to see the ethics consideration for projects that college synthetic biology students have designed as part of the iGEM Competition.

Other Student-Written BioEthics Essays about Synthetic Biology

"Four suggestions for addressing public concern regarding synthetic biology" Journal of Biological Engineering 2010, 4:7 (9 June 2010)
"Mapping the moral boundaries of biological engineering" Journal of Biological Engineering 2009, 3:7 (8 May 2009)
"Synthetic biology: enormous possibility, exaggerated perils" Journal of Biological Engineering 2008, 2:7 (25 April 2008)


Grading Rubrics and Scoresheets

Download as (.doc),(scoresheet pdf) and (grading pdf)


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