Getting the Basics of Genetic Circuits into High School Classrooms

Achievement date: 

Fifteen teachers from 11 high schools had the opportunity to learn the main principles behind genetic circuits and synthetic biology for use in their own classrooms, thanks to post-graduate research supported by the NSF-funded Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc), which is headquartered at the University of California (UC) Berkeley. 


With assistance from graduate students, the teachers were introduced to genetic circuits and instructed in how to use a genetic circuits teaching kit that was developed at Synberc partner institution, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Feedback was extremely positive, including this comment from one participant: “I thought I'd feel like a fish out of water, but I did follow quite nicely with the instruction. Also, [the teaching kit] hit the target on what a circuit actually does and really piqued my interest further."


The Genetics Circuits Workshop was sponsored by the Washington University St. Louis (WUSTL) Institute for School Partnership, and held in the lab of researcher Dr. Tae-Seok Moon on June 30, 2014. The kit consists of a lab strain of E. coli and plasmids containing a genetic AND logic gate that were constructed when Dr. Moon worked as a Synberc postdoctoral researcher. This workshop exemplifies Synberc’s trifold mission of advancing research, attracting and training engineers, and engaging the public in the opportunities and challenges of engineering biology.