Team:CIDEB-UANL Mexico/HumanPractices/OurSchool


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Team: UANL_Mty-Mexico

Team: CIDEB-UANL Mexico

Preparing for a new team

As we are fourth semester students, in this human practice´s project we decided to inform second semester students about synthetic biology and iGEM to motivate them to be part of iGEM-CIDEB team for 2013. Before we prepare them specifically in every section of the competition, we have to accomplish our mission of informing and generate an interest in the project. Through a brief explanation and demonstration we look for enthusiasm and courage to do things right.

First of all we made an invitation for information sessions. We divided these sessions into two as the second semester generation has 2 breaks during its scholar schedule. We decided this to make more dynamic and a little bit more personalized the information space, answering questions from the students.

During these talks we gave them a brief explanation and demonstration just like we did in junior highs before, but this was with the specific purpose of the formation of the new team. We explained them what synthetic biology is, a little bit deeper explanation of the genes, the plasmids and the focus of the iGEM competition. A genetic construction, BioBricks, and as they have had further biology classes, they understood these concepts better. They even started proposing some genetic circuits; of course these ideas were very fantastic as they didn´t know the limitations of the circuits and its implications yet, but we explained them some examples and so they could understand the complexity of the process.

We also talked about the advantages and disadvantages, and as they will be developing the next iGEM project, they have to understand some facts of this brand new world for them. We made encourage them to be reflexive about some disadvantages as well as some of the risks thay could suffer in the laboratory.

For a better presentation where we offer real examples and experiences, we practiced the banana DNA extraction. Just as in junior highs students, they were astonished and showed a very impressive comprehension of what was happening. As the reactants are daily use materials like salt, meat softener, a BANANA!, alcohol, etc., we showed them that synthetic biology shouldn´t be something reserved only for wealthy people, but for everyone to experience it. The students kept asking interesting questions like: How is the DNA arranged? What is that white thing right there? (banana DNA), and How did you do that? We told them to remember that we are made of DNA and that it is the basis of life! That´s the shocking part, that we´re actually modifying life!

As a result of the previous conclusion, an ethics space started. The students debated about the good and bad decisions people may take, and how to avoid this. This was a very interesting part of the sessions, as in both initiated. We did not interfere in this part as it is something they should conclude as a team if they want to succeed in their project. Curiously in both sessions they got to the same conclusion but in different words. They said that it is a very useful tool to improve our world, they mentioned the environment and the medical business, and commented about some wrong applications this may have, as creating viruses accidentally or intentional. They are very good students and decided not to try those bad decisions but to modify something to improve our life style. They actually criticized the excessive use of automobiles and contamination. They may focus their project in that direction as they seemed very interested and concerned.

In general we could appreciate a very good response as the total number of interested people is 40 persons. Some of them immediately demonstrated their interest in the laboratory and some of them in the Mathematical model. We explained them our mission and objective as part of human practices and they were really amazed. We could appreciate the social impact we generated in their perspective about the subject in all of their questions and interest.

Finally, at the end of the 2 sessions we made a Database with their names and e-mail addresses in order to keep them informed of the next step to be part of this amazing experience. The students showed very interested and immediately wrote down their names. We think that iGEM-CIDEB 2013 will be even better than ours because we will share with them some tips to keep the team together, as well as some advices to avoid certain difficulties. They seem very united as a generation and that is a very big step in the path of a good project and team. We identified their great enthusiasm as they asked, commented, and even smiled in a very astonished manner when we pronounced concepts like: “genetic modification” or “DNA translation”. With their encouragement and our experience and help, this is a great potential material to get an excellent project next year, always looking for the better and to improve our work. .