Team:Heidelberg LSL/Project humanPractice


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 community. Many people are not aware of synthetic biology and only a minority is really informed about its potential. 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 learn about genetic engineering?

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 the basic principles of how genetic circuits in cells can be 'engineered' 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 teenagers, students and adults without vast knowledge to get involved into synthetic and molecular biology.

Science interesting and intelligible - why not writing a book?

This is the idea and motivation of the popular German scientific writer Dr. Olaf Fritsche. His upcoming book deals with the future of biological sciences. He will explain how scientific knowledge arises and show that everybody can understand facts when asking the right questions in science. Olaf approached us some weeks ago and asked whether he could visit our iGEM HS team in order to ask some basic questions about our project and team. Finally, he did not only visit us once, but several times, both inside and outside of the laboratory and followed our project from its start with the idea to its final end (his last visit was in the wiki-freeze night and he will follow up also after the iGEM jamboree). Its our great pleasure and honor, that Olaf Fritsche will report about our teams' and projects' development during taking part in the iGEM HS competition in his book in several passages embedded in different chapters. Fritsche’s work will show that establishing an iGEM project extra-curricularly is ambitious but in the same way funny and intelligible. We hope that his book will encourage people outside of the synthetic biology community to overcome prejudices against science, in particular molecular biology and synthetic biology and become more educated and informed about modern life-sciences developments.

Why iGEMs and an Online Shop?

We carefully thought about possible applications of our UV-sensing bacteria which would - for sure - be in the health-protection sector, e.g. by warning people when getting sun-burned by a high UV dose. We decided to work in direction of an everyday-life product of which the general public should have most profit from. For the integration of our measurement construct containing bacteria into such a product context, we thought about a funny and innovative way that could be coherent with current trends and that should evoke interest and curiosity amongst people. iGEMs, genetically modified gems, on bracelets and necklaces are a nice way to communicate our ideas to a broad public.
The way we communicate our products is, for that reason, an online store ‘Online store’ which is - of course - not a real store, but just a fake (you can neither buy the iGEMS, nor the UV-sensing bacteria or anything). The store is supposed to give the user a reality-like impression of an everyday-life product which could be developed by using synthetic biology approaches. To overcome the distance to our product, we tried to imitate the common structure and design that the user knows from other online-shops and stores. However, when the user gets interested into a certain product and wants to buy it, we clarify, that our shop is just a 'fake' and aims for raising interest in synthetic biology and inform about this new scientific area. We provide the user with website links that provide information about iGEM and synthetic biology. In addition, we implemented a simple contact form, by which the user can get in touch with us in order to get more information about our project.

Watch us on! (in German language)

We are very happy that the online information platform ‘’ recorded an interview with one of our participants, Charlotte Bunne, and included it into one of their weekly documentations recently. Initiated by the German ministry for education and science, is a public platform to inform not only scientists, but also people without scientific background about current results and technologies in biotechnological research. One of its main sections is a large video collection with short videos about various areas associated with biotechnology. The platform is constantly updated and revised and we are very glad to be in the latest online episode of Here, Charlotte explains briefly and very intelligible our iGEM HS project idea, the concept behind 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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