IGEM Outreach:Synthetic Biology and You Interactive Workshop (Gr. 11-12)

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Synthetic Biology and You Interactive Workshop

  • Waterloo iGEM 2011
  • Half-day activity that incorporates 2 hands on activities and a presentation on synthetic biology
  • Suitable for: Grade 11-12
  • Download lesson plan and materials
  • Please free to contact us at: uwigem.outreach.hp@gmail.com

Downloadable Materials

Ppt (part 1)
Ppt (part 2)


With a basic understanding of genetics, molecular biology and biotechnology, biology students from Grades 11-12 will be able to learn about various core concepts while taking part in low-cost and high-fun interactive activities:

  • What is synthetic biology?
  • What is iGEM?
  • GMOs and Health Canada (this can be changed to the country of choice) regulations
  • EnviroPig Activity
  • Design Your Own Pathway Activity
  • Biofuels: an alternative source or another passive trend?
  • Pharmaceuticals: changing drug processes?
  • Future careers and academic paths

Interactive Activities

The EnviroPig

The first event we had was to talk about our very own Canadian genetically enhanced Yorkshire pig called the EnviroPig™. It has the capability to digest plant phosphate more efficiently than traditional Yorkshire pigs, which do not contain the enzyme to break it down, phytase. This gene can be found in E.coli which had been inserted into a pig embryo to allow it to produce phytase in its salivary glands. This is a real technology in Canada and is currently a very hot topic of debate among many citizens, so we thought it would be ideal to introduce students to the world of biotechnology right in their very own backyards. This GMO can be changed to whatever is a prominent topic in your country! Once students had been exposed to the information, we had given them a package which we had compiled giving the positives and negatives of societal, technological, ethical, environmental and economical issues. Students then were delegated into groups and were asked to do a 2 minute presentation on whether the Government of Canada should continue funding this project.

Design Your Own Pathway

The basis of this activity is to implement an understanding of what happens in the wet lab, right in their own hands. We do not have the luxury of time, space or facilities sometimes where we can demonstrate to students what the concept of a BioBrick is and how it is used in our labs. Therefore, we accessed the parts registry to use real BioBricks and created various scenarios of customized pathways. Students had to form teams and in the form of a relay race compete with one another to finish the set first. You can change this based on the preference of scenarios or make them harder/easier to do.


  • Colourful markers
  • Large sheets of paper (we mean very large, as big as your body)
  • Construction paper
  • A printer
  • Projector
  • Laptop with presentation
  • Prizes (this is optional and varies depending on your budget)


  • Do this workshop when it is time for students to apply to universities/colleges. Since you will be discussing future career paths, you may want to expose potential degrees and jobs out in the market before they do their university applications.

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