Team:Tyngsboro MA Tigers/Human Practices



Outreach and Human Practices

One of the main goals of our team was to spread awareness of iGEM and bioengineering in our community. We are the inaugural iGEM team in our school, so no one knew who we were or what we did. We did a few outreach projects to spread awareness of iGEM in our school and community.

Take a quick QUIZ to test your Carbon Monoxide knowledge at this link: What Do You Know About CO?

What we have done

Commercial: We filmed a "What is iGEM?" commercial that detailed what our club does and what bioengineering is in a fun and entertaining manner. This video was shown to the entire school this spring.

News Story: Thanks to Lizzie Barrett, one of our team contributors wrote an news article about our new club. It included quotes from different iGEMers and even a quote from our principal! This was published in a local printing called Neighbor to Neighbor, which is distributed to every house in Tyngsborough and Dunstable.

"Neighbor-to-Neighbor" Spring 2012
Neigh1.png Lizzie.jpg Lizzie Barrett, Public Relations

Fundraising: Unfortunately, science can be expensive. To provide funds for our club to be used towards lab expenses, buying antibiotics, and purchasing geeky tee-shirts, we did a few fundraisers over the year. For details about our fundraisers, please go here. For information about our amazing sponsors and supporters who donated money, supplies, time, services and support, please go here.

Grant: We applied for and received a grant from the Educational Foundation for Tyngsborough for start up funds for developing a basic molecular biology lab for students at our school.

Academic Excellence Awards Ceremony June 7, 2012
Left: Martina Witts, Board Member, EFT Right: Rebekah Ravgiala

The following is an excerpt from the Grant Proposal submitted by Rebekah Ravgiala to The Education Foundation for Tyngsborough:

BioBuilding to the Future:

Merging the Principles of Engineering with the Tools of Biology

Proposed by: Rebekah Ravgiala, Ed.D.

Project Goals and Objectives

"In his recent “State of the Commonwealth” (January 2012) speech, Governor Patrick delivered some interesting statistics from the employment sector, “Business leaders tell me over and over again that… the people looking for jobs don't have the skills required. Many of these openings are for so called ‘middle skills’ jobs that require more than a high school diploma but not necessarily a four-year degree: jobs in medical device manufacturing or as lab technicians or solar installers, for example… forced by this economic downturn… people don't have the proper training for those jobs. We have a ‘skills gap’” (“”). Furthermore, Gov. Patrick asserts, “We can do something about that” (“”). The job market has changed once again, and as educators, we are compelled to consider marketplace trends, current research in our fields of expertise, and the opportunities that will be available to our students once they leave these halls. In the past 3 years, we have been faced with economic hardships, and job prospects have been grim. So, what will our students do when they graduate from THS? What does the tool kit that we will we provide them look like? What is our legacy to them? Our students cannot afford to be left behind in science. We have the ability and obligation to better prepare people for the middle skills jobs of today and tomorrow.

Synthetic Biology is an emerging field that applies engineering and mathematical principles to the development of novel biological systems. These principles and technologies extend the teaching of molecular genetics techniques into real world, authentic applications. As a field of study, Synthetic Biology provides teachers and students an engineering context to learn molecular biology, genetic engineering, and microbiology methods. This approach asks students to learn while designing, or testing designs of engineered biological systems (

The inaugural BioBuilder Workshop in 2011 challenged a select group of 27 high school science teachers to learn leading-edge microbiology and molecular biology methods while designing and testing engineering and biological systems. As a participant, I was afforded an opportunity to learn about the growing field of synthetic biology, to engage in challenging professional development experiences, to experiment with new instructional practices and strategies for the improvement of my pedagogical skills, and to strengthen my identity as a scientist. These common core ideals set forth in this workshop provided an important foundation often absent from other teacher development programs.

My involvement in this workshop will culminate in the enrichment of the AP Biology curriculum with the implementation of novel synthetic biology experiments from the BioBuilder curriculum including the transformation of bacteria into banana smelling microorganisms and light-sensitive bacteria that can serve as pixels in a photograph. Ultimately, I have been handed the tool kit for providing my students with engineering-based labs and lessons that connect state-of-the-art research in engineering to high school curricula; a gap that has persisted for as long as I have been teaching. Although I have only piloted the BioBuilder curriculum with a small subset of students in the 2011-2012 academic year, I anticipate propagating the tool kit throughout my classes and beyond the walls of Tyngsborough High School during the 2012-2013 academic year. A brief presentation by Jim Dixon (Sharon HS), Aaron Mathieu (Acton-Boxborough HS), and me on the outcomes of implementing this curriculum was held at the Annual Massachusetts Association of Biology Teachers Conference in Framingham, MA on March 10th.

Although many of the synthetic biology lab activities have been performed without the standard equipment found in a molecular genetics lab, the extensions that are possible cannot be accomplished in their absence. As such, I am requesting the funds necessary to establish a working Molecular Biology lab for the purpose of carrying out the BioBuilder curriculum as a supplement to the existing AP Biology curriculum, to introduce molecular biology techniques among 9th grade Biology students, and to enrich the iGEM Team with equipment that will encourage their inquiries into cell design and culture as well as extracting parts for submission into the International Parts Registry database for synthetic biologists to share globally.

As we celebrate the accomplishments of our students’ performance on the Spring 2011 Biology MCAS exam, we must not become complacent. We owe it to our students to provide them with the experiences necessary to challenge conventional technologies and embrace the hi-tech modalities necessary to compete in this global economy. Our students are computer savvy, now we need to channel that proficiency into 21st century skills that will make Tyngsborough High School graduates stand out in the job market. Effective science teaching can no longer be accomplished by a knowledgeable “sage on the stage.” No longer is presenting 21st century science techniques via simulations an adequate representation of current science technologies. We understand that science has changed, and so our science teaching must reflect these changes in order to maintain our reputation as a progressive and leading-edge high school that capitalizes on the technological proficiencies of our 21st century students."

Future Plans:

We are always thinking up new and exciting ideas. Here are some of our ideas that were too big for us to do on such short notice, but that we definitely want to do next year. Some of them are already underway!

iGEM APP: We are working on developing an iGEM iPod app. It will be a fun game, with information about the practices of genetic engineering worked into it. It is still in its development stages and we hope to have it completed for next year.

DNA Day: A whole day to celebrate biology and science as a whole! We wanted to run activities and games related to science, biology and of course, iGEM!

Science is Elementary! Day: The idea behind this day was to bring science to our public elementary school. We wanted to make science fun, hands on, and accessible for the younger children. We hope to make the children realize that science was fun and make them interested in science!