Team:Lethbridge Canada/Education


Lethbridge High School iGEM Team


High School Presentations

This year as a form of outreach we decided to visit local high schools and talk to them about synthetic biology. We visited LCI (Lethbridge Collegiate Institute), Chinook High School, CCH (Catholic Central High), and Winston Churchill High School over the span of two weeks - going into all biology and chemistry classes in grades nine through eleven.

School Presentations1 School Presentations2
Presentations at Winston Churchill High School.

We informed the students and staff about synthetic biology,our project and the basic components that allow it to work like enzymes, E. coli, and our lab equipment. In addition to presenting, we let the students and staff take part in an experiment where they extracted DNA from a strawberry using basic household ingredients, including: strawberries, meat tenderizer, rubbing alcohol, laundry detergent, glass jars, measuring cups, and strainers. The aim of these presentations were to engage and expand the young minds of our community. Without a doubt, these presentations did so and gained many students' interest to join iGEM.


Exploration Expo

Exploration Expo was a single day event hosted by the University of Lethbridge, aimed at showcasing the science department of the University through interactive displays, research presentations, and performances. This event connects the University to a broader community and has allowed us to reach out to individuals of all ages and backgrounds. Exploration Expo was held on June 7th 2014 and our team set up a booth showcasing synthetic biology. As it was aimed at promoting education and understanding among all, we prepared a simple experiment involving everyday materials that was suitable to be conducted in such an environment. The experiment was extracting DNA from strawberries using household detergent and alcohol (95% ethanol); the option of extracting self DNA was also provided.

Volunteer Group at the Exploration Expo

A crude extract of DNA can be obtained from a strawberry homogenate. Strawberries are blended in a mixture of salt and water and are then added to a beaker. Meat tenderizer and detergent are then added to break up the cells. The free DNA in the solution can be precipitated with rubbing alcohol. The resulting DNA is visible to the naked eye and can be physically manipulated. This activity will give participants a hands-on experience with DNA.


1. Blend 100ml strawberries in 200ml of saltwater solution.

2. Filter homogenate into beaker

3. Add 30ml detergent and a pinch of meat tenderizer

4. Stir gently, and double the volume with ethyl alcohol

5. Allow students to manipulate DNA with tooth picks

Names of some individuals who participated in our booth

This interactive event allowed many people to come and inquire about synthetic biology and iGEM in particular. It was a great way for young kids to learn about science through a fascinating experiment to which many of them were captivated by. We were also able to reach out to members in the community who usually have no connection with the science field, and it was great to educate them with an informative demonstration. In addition, our team was given the opportunity to speak formally in front of a crowd of people about iGEM and our project this year. This event was the perfect opportunity for us to reach out and interact with the whole community and inform them of who we are and what we do.


The Oldman Watershed Council

The Oldman Watershed Council is a local non-profit organization in Lethbridge. They aim to find solutions to environmental challenges that impact us all. They are particularly concerned with water quality. Seeing that our project deals with solving the issue of the presence of antibiotics in water systems, we decided to contact this organization as a part of our Human Practices sector. We wanted to know if they had any concerns about antibiotics in water, if they were aware of the issue, and if they found our system idea viable. We received positive feedback and the Council offered to promote our team and project on their social media sites. Additionally, they offered us an opportunity to write for their blog. We will use this opportunity to create a series of three installments of blog posts outlining our project, our success at the jamboree, and our future plans and goals regarding our project. This will provide a great vessel for raising awareness about the rising issue of antibiotic resistance and how we are trying to use synthetic biology to solve it.

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