The seed of education gets sowed in the school.
Being one of the most experienced Indian iGEM teams iGEM IIT Delhi engages with hundreds of people every year. But we have noticed that many Indians are unaware about the prospects of synthetic biology and moreover are afraid of it. Hence, this year we aimed to promote the cause of synthetic biology. To achieve this, we began our endeavor in multiple schools of Delhi, where enthusiastic young students get to know the theory behind science but rarely do they get to interact with it or perform exciting experiments on what they are taught.
Hence, we designed hands-on synthetic biology workshops, where kids isolated the DNA of fruits and vegetables and experienced working with E. coli and how it can be modified to perform the desired function(we had displayed the expression of sfGFP and mKate2 protein) while understanding all the safety procedures and precautions one needs to take before working with biological systems. Amidst all this, we explained the multiple ways in which synthetic biology is being applied to solve some of the most complicated problems in the world, such as treatment of genetic disorders, tackling the issue of excess waste production etc.
The workshops were conducted in 6 prominent schools of Delhi, and we have interacted with more than 300 students, investing at least 4 hours on each session. iGEM IIT Delhi has received immense appreciation for their work from school students and principals alike, and we have been invited to multiple science fairs in Delhi to promote iGEM and synthetic biology further.
We also conducted an orientation session in NIN 100, which is a mandatory course for the fresh entrants of IIT Delhi, it has a very important role to play in terms of informing and arousing interest among the students. Students learn about the exciting work being done in various disciplines of engineering and entrepreneurship opportunities. iGEM IIT Delhi prides itself on being counted in the proud company of speakers like Prof. Ramgopal Rao, Mr. Pratyush Kumar(Boeing India VP), Mr. Pankaj Chaddha(Zomato Founder and CEO) and many more. Professors and around 900 undergraduate students attended the orientation. The main objective was to introduce students to synthetic biology, enlighten them about the futuristic technologies in the field and encourage them to research in the field. An emphasis was also laid on the impact these technologies have an in our day to day lives. We also held a 30 minutes long Q/A session where we discussed our current project and foundational science behind it.
You can click on the interactive map below, to take a peek into the way iGEM IIT Delhi has interacted with people:-
- Sanskriti School, Chanakyapuri
- Modern School, Barakhamba Road
- Bloom Public School, Vasant Kunj
- Carmel Convent School, Chanakyapuri
- Springdales School, Dhaula Kuan
- Balbharti School, Pitampura
The sessions were highly dynamic and interactive . We kicked off with a mock quiz on biology. This was followed by hands-on experience in DNA isolation and bacterial streaking on LA plates. Kids were really excited working with micropipettes. Our team members also guided them regarding future opportunities in the field as well as what to expect in the SynBio life. Since synthetic biology is relatively unknown in India, the team also gave an insight into the groundbreaking research in the field. We talked about our project and the possible technologies that could be revolutionized by its development. The session was concluded with a formal Q/A and the team talking about making a career in the field of biology.
Each year 1200 undergraduate and postgraduate students come to IIT Delhi. The much awaited Tour of stalls i.e. the annual club orientation is one of the most happening events on their arrival. iGEM IIT Delhi, being the premier synthetic biology club, ensured exposure towards engineering biology, more importantly focussing on the multidisciplinary aspect of the club. An iGEM introductory video was also shown. The students were fascinated by the potential applications of synthetic biology. Our tour of stalls was so successful that many freshers from diverse backgrounds approached us wanting to enroll in the club. With a very heavy heart we had to tell them that we will hold our recruitment drives next year. However seeing the excitement and wonder in their eyes made us appreciate the fact that what we do is seriously cool.
To realize the practical application of iGEM projects we reached out to Mr. Satish Kumar Singh, the Divisional Manager of Vestergaard, and had a personal interaction with him over the subject of impacting the society with synthetic biology. Vestergaard has been involved with some of the greatest inventions to develop a sustainable planet, such as Permanet(a mosquito net infused with mosquito-repelling proteins) and LifeStraw(makes polluted water potable). We were introduced to the methods by which the company looks at the viability of a project, and the ways in which a project should be designed in order to make a significant impact. As a result of the interaction with Vestergaard, IIT Delhi has decided to develop projects centered towards global health challenges while maintaining a strict safety protocol and developing solutions with the help of synthetic biology that contribute to a healthier, more sustainable planet, in the future years of iGEM IITD.