Team:British Columbia/Mentorship


Team: British Columbia -

So you want to be an iGEMer

Mentoring Young Scientists - Outreach at Science World September 20, 2011

The UBC iGEM 2011 team collaborated with Science World and Future Leaders in Science to deliver a synthetic biology workshop to select high school students and potentially foster the creation of a high school British Columbia iGEM team!

We are thankful to Dr. Catherine Anderson, Program Manager of Future Science Leaders for the opportunity to take part in this innovative program!

We introduced synthetic biology and iGEM to the high school students and guided them through a plasmid activity aimed at solving a real world problem by creating a plasmid with appropriate parts. Our workshop outline can be found at the wiki for iGEM outreach.

Check out our clip of "A Day in the Life... of an iGEMer" and lab safety:

The idea behind the “Day in the Life” video was to provide a sneak peek for Young Scientists to see what a lab looks like, where we do research and all the exciting things go on.

We incorporated safety considerations such as:

  1. Always have proper footwear (ie. bare feet is UNACCEPTABLE and flip flops aren’t good either)
  2. Wear long pants
  3. Have long hair tied back
  4. No food or drink in the lab (fuel up before you head in!)
  5. Wear a lab coat
  6. Always work with someone else in the lab, never work alone.
  7. Wear gloves (for sanitary high-fives)
  8. Use a proper lab notebook to keep a record of your lab work
  9. and many other things that can be spotted in the video...

We wanted to show off the beautiful Michael Smith building where we not only do research, but have meetings (sometimes long ones as in the video), connect with other scientists, hang out, laugh (and cry) and get lost in the hallways...

There were also some extra Science-y tidbits thrown in there which have very little to do with our project (ahem, liquid nitrogen? It is just too cool to leave out).

Guide to Starting a High School iGEM Team

The purpose of this guide to provide a universally applicable guide for how to start a high-school iGEM team in the spirit of continuing the mentorship mentality of iGEM. Our team is striving to create a simple system outlining what necessary steps need to take place in order to achieve this goal. This is a new approach to Human Practices and although this is currently only a guide, we are passionate to see this as a working model and ignite collaboration between iGEM universities.

As a new iGEMer, I, Laura was impressed by the inherent mentorship model of this competition. It is clear that a team of Undergraduates cannot function in and of themselves. I have experienced firsthand the invaluable support from Graduate students who sacrifice their time and energy to impart their knowledge to us. Also, there is the necessary support and guidance from Faculty advisers who advocate for lab space, network us with other faculty and provide thoughtful advice in times of troubleshooting. It is clear that there is a thread on mentorship within the iGEM community and we wish to extend that into the high-school iGEM division. In doing so, we anticipate growing as individuals and as a team while passing along the tidbits of knowledge we have gathered since graduation.

Our guide to facilitating the start of a high school iGEM team can be downloaded or found on this CommunityBricks page.

Human Practices Reflections and Future Directions

I, Laura, think back to the Spring when our team first formed and I excitedly volunteered to lead the Human Practices pillar. I was brimming with passion, ideas and naivety. It has been interesting to compare my expectations and objectives for the summer to what we have actually achieved and what objectives we have fulfilled.

It is a mixture of satisfaction and disappointment on my part. I had high hopes for all the things I would accomplish and then the summer months flashed by to this point of a nearly frozen wiki. That isn’t to say that I don’t have great pride for what we have done and where our initiatives will lead us apart from iGEM. The unfinished objectives are not failures, they are pre-formed possibilities for next year’s team!

It was important for us to invest our time into something sustainable and accessible. With regards to sustainability, we have had some keen responses from Future Science Leaders interested in being involved with our 2012 iGEM project (whatever that may be) or to start a team of their own. We wish to continue fostering relationship with these kids and be available for potential mentoring opportunities. In terms of accessibility, we have been trying to contribute to the Outreach page as much as possible and will continue to do so after the wiki freeze and even after Regionals. We aspire for our work to be accessible and replicable we found the Outreach Page to be the perfect portal.

In all, it was a good time. I definitely laughed a lot, I also cried a bit, and I worked with some amazing people. I can honestly say that this experience has changed me and I won’t ever be the same. I am looking forward to another epic year for British Columbia iGEM team in 2012!!