Team:Heidelberg LSL/Project humanPractice


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iGEM-2012HS - LSL-Heidelberg iGEM-2012HS - LSL-Heidelberg

Human Practice

As the Heidelberg Life-Science Lab is a place where science meets interested pupils, for us, it is very important to draw the connection between our scientific work and the non-scientific everyday life. Many are not aware of the potential or the presence of synthetic biology in their lives and only a minority is fascinated of ‘synthetic life’ and wants to learn more. With our work, we want to encourage non-scientific readers to negotiate possible prejudices, learn more about our work in the lab and have an entertaining insight into the various applications of our new biological system.

How can high-school students make ‘synthetic life’?

Learning by heart belongs to the past. We are learning by doing. Being normal high-school students, we want to show that everybody can understand how synthetic life can be ‘created’ and how intelligible most of the methods are. With our many explanations and protocols, we want to support, encourage and introduce upcoming high-school teams, interested teenager, students or adults without vast knowledge to get involved with synthetic and molecular biology as an important future perspective.

Science interesting and intelligible - why not writing a book?

This is the idea and motivation of the scientific writer Dr. Olaf Fritsche. His upcoming book will explain how scientific knowledge arises and shows that everybody can understand facts when asking the right questions. Here, we have the great honour to be mentioned as an example for interested pupils doing science. We are very happy that he decided to report in a chapter about our iGEM project right from the beginning to its end at the Jamboree 2012. Fritsche’s work will show that establishing an iGEM project extracurricularly is ambitious but in the same way funny and intelligible. His book should encourage everyone to overcome prejudices against science, in particular molecular biology and synthetic biology.

Why iGEMs and an Online Shop?

We carefully thought about possible applications for our UV-measuring system and decided that we wanted a form of which the general public should have most profits. For our biological construct, we thought about a funny and innovative product that could be coherent with current trends and that should evoke interest and curiosity amongst our readers. iGEMs, genetically modified gems, on bracelets and necklaces are a nice way to communicate our ideas to a great public.
The idea of measuring the intensity of the sun in order to prevent sunburn goes along with the efforts of the Heidelberg German Cancer Reasearch Centre. One of its main goals is to achieve more general awareness of cancer risks and cancer prevention. In our case we want to make sunbathing teenagers more aware of the enhanced risk to develop malign melanoma (black skin cancer) by getting sunburned and being exposed to intense UV-radiation.
The idea with a real ‘Online store’ is - of course - just a fake (you can neither buy the iGEMS, nor the UV-sensing bacteria or anything). But it is supposed to give the user a reality-like impression of an everyday-life product which could be developed by using synthetic biology approaches. However, we tried to give it an authentic outfit in order to show that a similar version would be possible in future. To overcome the distance to our product, we tried to imitate with our ‘Online Shop’ common structure and design. As the customer nowadays is able to go online shopping, we arranged a similar option with our ‘Check out’ bottom in our ‘Online Store’. Here, interested readers can pre book an article and should explain briefly why the product would be most suitable especially for them. We would like to use this information to get an impression of the wishes of interested people in order to optimize our products and to get better insight of the common favour. Doing so, we want to show that we are eager to communicate with the non-scientific public and to encourage them in particular to think about considering iGEMs as a general possible application of small genetically engineered machines.

Watch us on! (in German language)

We are very happy that the online information platform ‘’ involved an interview with one of our participants, Charlotte Bunne, in one of their short documentations. Initiated by the German ministry for education and science, is a public platform to inform not only scientists, but also people without scientific backround about current results and technologies in biotechnological research. One of its main rubrics is a large video collection with short videos about many various areas associated with biotechnology. The platform always is up to date and we are very glad to be in the latest episode of Here, Charlotte explains briefly and very intelligible our idea, our concept and what we are doing right now. You can watch the interview at the bottom of the page. It starts at 3:55 min.

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