Learning kits for Synthetic Biology
Articles Blog

Learning kits for Synthetic Biology

Hello, I am Juanma, from Open Science School,
currently an association based in the center for research and Interdisciplinarity of Paris.
We are developing Synthetic Biology kits for learners.
We strongly believe in open-source principles. This means that both the hardware and the
documentation is released under an open license. It also means that our kit is built in an
open way. Rather than providing a black box that performs some functions, we provide tools
for people to perform their experiments, modify and share them. Understanding the principles
of operation behind the tools is also part of the experience.
The kits include low-cost versions of common molecular biology lab equipment: a spectrophotometer/fluorimeter,
a transilluminator, a controller that can turn a cardboard box into an incubator, and
an electroporator; They will also come along with wetware: like media, DNA, bacterial strains,
and reagents. The kits are complemented with educational materials, both online and offline,
including workshops for teachers and students. The wet lab projects designed for the kit
range from simple to advanced, making Synthetic Biology closer to the general public.
We have a high-accuracy working prototype for the spectrophotometer. It is produced
with 3D printing and laser cutting. The 3D printed parts are optimized for injection
moulding, and the electronics is optimized for cost. To make our spectrophotometer much
cheaper, we chose to use LEDs to produce monochromatic light instead of a precision mechano-optical
system. This limits the number of wavelengths we can use in our device, but with 3 channels,
we can cover a wide range of applications, and you can always install a different LED.
The transilluminator allows visualization of electrophoresis gels or petri dishes, and
it is being developed with a partner at ESPCI (Paris). The electroporator transforms cells
with electric pulses and is designed with help from our partners from the Kiev DIY-bio
group, in Ukraine. Our wet lab kits, learning material, and workshops have come from our
experience with high schools in the past year. The weblab provides a project-based context
for learning. We believe that using small real-life projects to demonstrate scientific
concepts improves the learning process and allows the users to directly experience what
is written in textbooks. These kits can be used by teachers and trainers to expand their
biology courses with simple, yet powerful, experiments that will ultimately enhance the
learning and scientific interest of the students. Kit #1: Discover the potential of microbes.
Will provide tools for the microbial explorer to source microbes from the environment or
your food. It will also provide food and home to interesting bacteria and fungi, which them
you will be able to make make biomaterials. Kit #2: Make your bacteria produce colors.
Here you will be able to insert DNA into bacterial cells to make them gain a function. You will
learn what is the function of DNA and how easy it is to make your first engineered bacteria.
Kit #3: Understand how DNA is used by bacteria. This will be achieved by a collection of different
constructs partially sourced from the iGEM registry. They will include different DNA
schemes and you will be able to measure the output and understand which simple principles
are behind DNA design. We intend to keep the prices as low as possible.
A network of DIY-biologists, teachers and students supports us. We will also provide
workshops for the teachers or individuals to learn how to explore the full potential
of the kits. Our main goal is to curate and improve existing open-source courses.
Now, it is time to make this project go forward and that’s why we want you to join us. Excellent
feedback coming from schools, hackerspaces, and research teams encouraged us to take this
next step. Support us to improve open-source education
and make synthetic biology more understandable by the general public.

3 thoughts on “Learning kits for Synthetic Biology

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top