IGEM Outreach:Plasmid Activity

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Plasmid Activity

  • British Columbia iGEM 2011


This activity will expose students to the real life applications of synthetic biology and catalyze creative thinking for future, potential iGEM projects.

Materials for each group (groups of 3 to 5)

  • Pipe cleaner set (12 colours)
  • Ruler
  • Scenario & Worksheet
  • Gene Legend
  • Calculator (optional)


Provide some background information:

  • How is the DNA of E. coli different?
  • What are plasmids and how can they be created?
  • What is synthetic biology?
  • What are some of the controversies of using synthetic biology?

To start, have group choose a scenario and let them create their ideal plasmid with no size limit. The students must find the important information from the scenarios to choose the appropriate genes for their plasmids.

Then, impose size restrictions on the plasmids based on instability of larger size plasmids. The new size to aim for is around 25kb. The students will then have to choose what genes are the most beneficial to their given scenario and which ones can be eliminated or changed.

Swap plasmids with another group and try to guess which scenario the plasmid belongs to. Allow the groups to give feedback and suggestions to each other.

Finally, have the groups present their plasmid along with justification for why they chose the certain genes.


Instructor's guide: File:UBCiGEM2011PlasmidInstructor.docx Student's guide: File:UBCiGEM2011PlasmidStudent.docx