Team:William and Mary/Practices


Human practices


Adult Communication

After hearing the community's concerns about SynBio, we held workshops and seminars to clear misconceptions.


Youth Education

Synthetic biology can be a blast with the right approach. The 150 kids at our workshops sure thought so!


Long-Term Sustainability

We made a teacher-friendly educational activities booklet to keep up the momentum long after the Jamboree.

Spreading Public Awareness of Our Project

We presented these two talks on two project subjects: "What is Synthetic Biology?" and "Biomath". We created an outreach blog directed at the general public about our project, iGEM, and Synthetic Biology as a whole. This blog received thousands of page views and was used by people around the world. We created and maintain a William & Mary iGEM 2015 Facebook and Twitter to spread awareness of our project.
We conducted a survey that measured Synthetic Biology awareness and gauged public concerns about Synthetic Biology at our local farmer's market. Two articles about William and Mary iGEM were published in the Flat Hat, William & Mary's Newspaper: An article about our team and our outreach efforts, and an article by two team members, Elli Cryan and Panya Vij, about communicating science.

Parent Sessions

Parent sessions: Four of our nine workshops gave parents the opportunity to learn about synthetic biology, and half of those gave parents the opportunity to see our lab and discuss ethical questions about subjects pertaining to Synthetic Biology, such as GMO consumption and the morality of Synthetic Biology research. We also gave parents the opportunity to ask any questions and voice any concerns they had relating to Genetic Engineering and Synthetic Biology.

In Progress

The Williamsburg Library has agreed to distribute free pamphlets about synthetic biology. These pamphlets will address concerns voiced in the survey we conducted. We are organizing more lab visits from schools and groups in our local community. We are also hosting a 2 hour event at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History on November 21, 2015 in their new Q?rius Lab. There, we will be sharing doing four synthetic biology activities with the public.

The Activities Booklet

After hosting our workshops, we compiled 24 of the activities we ran with participants into a single Synthetic Biology educational booklet. Each activity lists the procedure, background information, materials and cost for the activity, critical learning questions, and learning goals. We made an effort to keep the activities low-cost and used materials easily accessible to teachers. We included background information so that teachers with limited Biology background could easily run the activities. The booklet includes worksheets, labs, and activities that can be completed by first graders to AP Biology students, and any age in between.
We worked with Bonnie Ellis, the Science Curriculum Coordinator of Williamsburg James City County Public Schools to ensure that our booklet is usable and convenient for teachers.
Who we shared our booklet with:
We have already shared our booklet with teachers all over the state, the country, and the world! Here in Williamsburg, we attended the Williamsburg James City County Teacher Training days to present our booklet to all the science teachers in the county. In addition, we have given our booklet to teachers all over the state. We now have teachers in five states who plan on running our booklet. We also provided our booklet upon request to teachers in China and, through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, Malaysia.
We are still working on responding to all the requests for our booklet! Currently, we are working on providing the Virginia state learning standards that each activity fulfills so that local teachers can seamlessly integrate our activities into their year-long schedules. We are also providing local teachers with kits that include materials for our activities up until the date of the 2015 iGEM Jamboree.

Our educational synthetic biology activities booklet is available online for anyone to use for free. This includes future iGEM teams looking to hold Synthetic Biology workshops and camps, as well as educators worldwide. Additionally, teachers in the Williamsburg area can request in-class assistance or tutoring for the booklet from volunteers of College Partnership for Kids. CPK is a group of William & Mary students who tutor at local schools. CPK volunteers will receive special training in order to use the activities in our Synthetic Biology booklet.

Knowledge of Synthetic Biology: The information we provided and taught to students and adults in our workshops will inspire them to look into Synthetic Biology and see scientific research as a more tangible career option. We have already received emails from parents whose kids couldn't stop talking about our workshops, and we feel certain that this enthusiasm for Synthetic Biology will carry them into the future.

Lab visits: We put our local public schools in contact with Dr. Saha, our iGEM PI, who will continue to organize and facilitate visits by classes to William and Mary Biology Department labs.