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Building with Biology: Super Organisms

In this activity focused on synthetic biology, learners use the engineering design process to design a single-celled organism to clean up an oil spill to learn more about synthetic biology.

DESCRIPTION

This is a hands-on Building with Biology activity. Visitors learn about the ways synthetic biologists can solve problems through creativity and the engineering process. Visitors are first challenged to design a superhero (by attaching cut-out features to a paper template, or by drawing them on) to rescue a person falling from a tall building. Then, visitors use that same creative engineering process to design a single-celled organism to clean up an oil spill. Participants discuss why they chose the features they did, and how designing a superhero is similar to or different from designing a microorganism.

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DESCRIPTION

This is a hands-on Building with Biology activity. Visitors learn about the ways synthetic biologists can solve problems through creativity and the engineering process. Visitors are first challenged to design a superhero (by attaching cut-out features to a paper template, or by drawing them on) to rescue a person falling from a tall building. Then, visitors use that same creative engineering process to design a single-celled organism to clean up an oil spill. Participants discuss why they chose the features they did, and how designing a superhero is similar to or different from designing a microorganism.

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TRAINING VIDEOS

OBJECTIVES

BIG IDEA

Synthetic biology generates new tools and knowledge. Synthetic biology is interconnected with society.

LEARNING GOALS

  • Synthetic biologists solve problems by applying engineering principles to living materials.

  • Synthetic biology uses the engineering design process.

  • Synthetic biology is interconnected with society.

Credits

YEAR CREATED
2016
OWNING INSTITUTION

Museum of Science

FUNDING

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number DRL 1421179.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

PERMISSIONS

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 United States (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US).
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DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

NISE Network products are developed through an iterative collaborative process that includes scientific review, peer review, and visitor evaluation in accordance with an inclusive audiences approach. Products are designed to be easily edited and adapted for different audiences under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license. To learn more, visit our Development Process page.

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