Team:OLS Canmore AB CA/Outreach.html






This year, the team chose to focus on three key projects:

  • - Creating a working biobrick by assembling two biobricks made by previous iGEM teams

  • - Setting up a synthetic biology laboratory

  • - Educating our community about our project and synthetic biology.

The latter of which was separated into two different parts, one of them is community outreach. Once our project goal—creating a heat-induced olfactory biosensor—was decided, several different team members discussed different ways to talk to community members and get them interested in our iGEM project and synthetic biology. In the end, we decided on pursuing three different ideas: Presenting to teachers and other students at our school, connecting with friends, family, and peers through social media, and talking about our project to the town council is the third.

Student Presentation

Student Presentation

Teacher and Student Presentations

Due to the team using the school’s lab, starting a discussion about synthetic biology and the heat-induced olfactory biosensor we are creating was important to team members.


Our Lady of the Snows (our school) is a catholic school, hosts students from kindergarten all the way to grade 12; however, the student body consists only of, approximately, 440 students. This allowed team members to visit students from grade 4 all the way through to grade 9. Depending on the audience, different concepts were focused on during the presentations. The presentations for grades 4 to 6 included information on the basic science of DNA, synthetic biology, and bacteria: with the focus being placed on the heat-induced olfactory biosensor that is being made. The content presented to grades 7 to 9 changed little from the other presentations, though more information about synthetic biology was presented. The pieces of information added were concise and informational descriptions of all the steps the team will be following to join the two biobricks together.


Team members also felt the need to communicate to teachers what our project entails. This was accomplished by teaching them about the impact of synthetic biology on the world, techniques used and the science applied when genetically engineering bacteria, and how the heat-induced olfactory biosensor would be created.


These presentations proved successful, since they instilled interest in iGEM in the younger students (grades 4-7) and the team received feedback from people saying that they had learned a lot. Talking to the elementary kids about the benefits of bacteria and about the lab work the team is conducting was phenomenal since the students were very involved in the conversation and very curious. Though the junior high students weren’t as enthusiastic as the others, they were still very attentive and many expressed interest in participating in an iGEM team next year. The teachers were astonished high school students have the ability to participate in such a high level competition and were very accepting of synthetic biology.


Links to all different presentations can be found here:
Presentation 1 (Grades 4-6):


Presentation 2 (Grades 7-9 and teachers):

OLeSsence Twitter

OLeSsence Facebook

Social Networking

As a small project, team members created both Twitter and Facebook accounts to share updates on the project. Many peers and friends followed these accounts allowing for team members to keep students and community members updated on our project.




DIY - Community

We have created our own synthetic biology lab, in addition to some of our own equipment, such as our dremelfuge and our incubator/shaker table


Dremelfuge concept on-line from:


Incubator/Shaker Table design adapted from:



We have also contributed to the DIY biology community. The plans for our homemade incubator/shaker table can be found here:

Newspaper photo

Newspaper Article

We have also been featured in our town newspaper, the Crag and Canyon, in an article about our team, project, and synthetic biology. This has helped educate our larger community about iGEM, and our project goals.


Link to the article:


Town Council Presentation


Town Council Presentation








Town Council

As a final human practices project, a few team members visted Canmore's town council and mayor. A presentation had been scheduled in order to introduce them to our project and open doors for funding next year if the school team decides to continue participating in iGEM. The presentation focused on two main ideas: What is synthetic biology and what is our iGEM project. Even though this was most of what our project consisted of, some ethical concerns regarding Catholic perspectives on synthetic biology and safety concerns regarding E. coli and genetic engineering were also addresed. Since a 10-minute time limit was imposed, the presentation consisted mostly of key information and the mayor along with council memebers had the chance to ask questions during a 5 minute question period directly after.


At the time of the presentation, the council chambers were also open to all members of the community with a few members from the local press recording content from the presentation.


The feedback received from this was positive, and many were impressed that high school students had the opportunity to participate in iGEM. Questions asked during the question period centered on how to actually piece together the two biobricks we are using and how we set out on this endeavor. An example of a comment from during the question period is one council member remarking on the recyclng of material in the construction of our Do-It-Yourself equipment (example: the use of an old record player). All the more, council memebrs and the mayor invited us to apply for funding through Canmore's community grant system.


A link to the presentation can be found here:

Town Council Presentation






2014 Our Lady of the Snows iGEM