Team:CIDEB-UANL Mexico/HumanPractices/JuniorHS


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Team: UANL_Mty-Mexico

Team: CIDEB-UANL Mexico

HP: Junior High School Visits
Monday 03/19/2012

The HP team rehearsed the presentation that was made to expose the topic of synthetic biology for junior high students. We tried to imagine that we were junior high students that were receiving a lesson related with Synthetic biology without knowing a lot about the topic.

We also use this day to practice two different experiments, and according to the results decide which one was better and easier for the students to understand. The purpose of this is to show that even something simple like a common daily life object which they are in contact all the time, like a banana or a spittle, can be used in a DNA extraction. We decided that the extraction of DNA from a banana was a better experiment for the students, so they can get in touch with DNA and familiarized more with their looks appreciateand get a better comprehension of where DNA is located. Also how all the genetic information is stored in cells. We took the time that take us to finish the presentation with the experiment, which was an interval from 30 to 40 minutes. That was very useful information for us and we used it to ask for permission in the different schools.

Tuesday 03/20/2012

This was the first Human Practices action day. We went to two junior highs. Three of the five members of the Human Practices team assisted to the appointments that we had with Junior High #37: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, located in the city of Escobedo, Nuevo León; and Junior High #7, located in the city of San Nicolás de los Garza, Nuevo León. The Junior high #7 was the first one in which we give the talk. The group was over 70 people, formed by all the students of two classes of 9th grade. We think that the rate of interest was affected because the information was only given theoretically. They demonstrated curiosity and some of them were really amazed, but most of them were very excited for going out because a part of their lunch time was taken. They showed a sort of knowledge about the risks of being in the laboratory and how you can avoid them. In this part of the presentation were really related with the topic. The professors of this junior high asked to us for the laboratory report of DNA extraction, so they could make this experiment later.

In Junior High #37 the group was about 65 people and, in contrast to the previous one, we permormed elaborated the experiment of the banana DNA extraction. The students were extremely amazed and they were much more relaxed and happy. They had just come back from their recess so I think that was a very influential factor. The students showed a very good comprehension of the topic: they understood what a gene and DNA are and learned how to explain them. A professor was so excited that he took us a lot of pictures and a complete video of our visit. They asked us to come back and talk to the rest of the groups, but we told them that first we have to go and comply with other junior highs that asked us to go.

In Junior High #37 the group was about 65 people and different from the previous one, here we elaborated the banana DNA extraction, and the students were extremely amazed and they were much more relaxed and happy. They were coming back from their recess so, I think that was a very influential factor. The stdents showed a very good comprehension of the topic, they understood what a gene and DNA is and learned how to explain them. A professor was so excited that he took us a lot of pictures and a complete video of our visit. They asked us to come back and talk to the rest of the groups, but first we have to go and comply with other junior highs that asked us to go.

Wednesday 03/21/2012

We atended to Junior High #30 Profesor Rogelio de León Garza, located in San Nicolas city and the stdents at the beginning of the practice were a little bouncy and very excited about the practice we made, that was the same of banana DNA extraction but most of the 4 groups showed a lot of attention and even though they were a lot of students it was a very good time. We talked about some movies where the synthetic biology was present and how they could apply it, and that mutations and stuff like that were myths.

Thursday 03/22/2012

Marcela, Gisela, Yves and I went to a school located in the city of Guadalupe, Nuevo León, named Instituto San Diego, and in this visit we talked to a smaller group of about 28 students. They all were very participative and showed a little bit of more knowledge than the other schools we have visited. During the practice of the banana DNA extraction they saw how we applied the instructions of security and safety in lab wearing the Lab coat, gloves, the hair fastened and taking care of not being wearing any jewelry. We also worked in team, Marcela and I showed a great team support and we emphasize it for they to know that a team work in Lab and in life is a very important tool. We explained them how a cell worked and the basic concepts of synthetic biology, plus a variety of great examples that they could easily identify.
After the practice some of the students came to me and started to ask me about iGEM and how they could participate, I explained them a little bit of the contest and they mentioned their interest for being in the CIDEB team.
At the end they said us good bye with loud applause.

Banana DNA Extraction

Objective: To extract the DNA of a banana to demonstrate junior high and high school students the easy and fascinating biology is. With this DNA already out of the cell we may be able to change it and create an organism with specific characteristics, depending on what we want.


*Bannana (100g)
*Salt (1 pinch)
*Detergent (20 ml)
*Distiled water (20 ml)
*2 Plastic cups
*Alchol at 90
*1 Spoon
*1 Filter (For coffe, a napkin)
*1 Glass
*1 Plastic bag


1.You have to smash the banana inside a bag to get purée. This will separate its cells.

2.In a glass make a mixture of soap, salt and distillated water. Make sure it is well solved!

4.Helped with a colander, pass the mixture to another recipient.

5.Serve a little bit of the mixture in a test tube.

6.Then add the cold alcohol. This will precipitate the DNA and come out of the solution separating it from molecules like proteins, lipids, etc.


Junior High Schools Visits Conclusion:

The objective of human practices in iGEM is to spread the basis of synthetic biology and iGEM. As we are high school students we decided that it would be truly challenging and funny to visit junior high students as they are younger than us. We visited several junior high schools and offered a small conference along with a biology practice: banana DNA extraction.

Before the visits started we contacted every school and accorded a day. After the schedule was done, the hard part began: the planning of the visit. We prepared a Power Point Presentation with different areas where we explained iGEM, synthetic biology, genes, DNA, applications of genetic modifications, advantages, disadvantages, risks and of course precautions.

We were 5 people involved in the junior high schools visits. We practiced the presentation several times in order to achieve our goal the best we could. We also repeated the banana DNA extraction in the lab 2 times until we got the best results and the DNA was clearly appreciated.

The first visit was to junior high #7. We were really nervous as it was the first time we did it and we didn't know how the students would react. We felt like if they were not paying attention even though they were quiet, but fortunately at the end they asked several questions and showed some interest as we interacted with them during the exposition. They didn´t know what a gene is and we tried to explain the best we could with examples, pictures, imaginary situations, etc. At the end we asked some questions and almost all of them knew the answers. This was really satisfactory as it demonstrated they were interested and our goal was accomplished.

This result was the same in all the junior highs, they showed great interest during the whole presentation and it became easier as we interacted with them. The participation of the students increased as we got more practice, we concluded that we reflected more self-confidence, so the students felt even more interest.

At the end of the presentations we made the banana DNA extraction in every school, except for the first one. We explained them that it was something really easy and amazing. They saw the whole process, and taking advantage of the situation we remembered the precautions in laboratory: lab coat, tied up hair, no jewelry, closed shoes, etc. As we finished with the practice and showed them the results, they reacted in a very funny way! They were astonished and some of them even said that they thought it was only possible in movies! We were very proud as they felt amazed and really impacted.

Some of them were so attracted that many asked how to enter the competition and if it was necessary to be at our high school. We answered yes, and it felt very good the fact of them saying they would enter CIDEB and participate in iGEM. It was really interesting how even teachers felt attracted by the whole project. They asked harder questions, and it was actually challenging, but at the end it was a total success.

In conclusion of the iGEM-CIDEB Human Practices visits to junior highs, we could say that it caused a great social impact in the students. They felt motivated by something and we explained and cleared difficult concepts. They even started inventing some modified organisms, which is a sign of inspiration and motivation. These kinds of things are as important as to build a project. The support of people is always a very important part of everything, and we think that´s why this is so important, who knows? Maybe one of these students one day may win the Noble Prize! Human practices are primordial as we made aware of the advantages and applications of this new concept in students. This should continue to make the synthetic biology as popular as we can, this could become the answer to global problems and it´s in our hands to make that possible!