What’s involved?

BioBuilderClub teams work at their schools from mid-October to mid-March, with teams joining at any time up until March 1. During the BioBuilderClub season, teams are paired with a practicing bioengineer who will provide 10 hours of mentoring on project ideas. Teams can find additional resources and communicate with eachother, with other teams and with their mentors through the BioBuilderClub SLACK channel.

A simple laboratory kit is included so teams can plan and perform an individualized experiment. Teams also have access to free NEB BioBuilderClub reagents, listed here >

Once during the season, teams can visit one of BioBuilder’s two Learning Labs in Massachusetts, and all teams are invited to give a 1′ lightning talk and present a poster at a virtual Final Assembly in March.

After the BioBuilderClub season concludes, each team’s work will be
documented in the BioBuilderClub Project Library,  linked here >

and many teams publish their project in BioTreks, the peer reviewed journal for high school synthetic biologists.

Biodesign for Young Innovators

Our rallying cry is “all you need is a good idea and we’ll teach you the engineering to bring it to life.” BioBuilderClub increases student access to authentic tools and approaches for engineering biology. Within biodesign teams, budding scientists develop meaningful projects that address real-world challenges.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions about BioBuilderClub here. If you can’t find the answers here please feel free to contact us (info@biobuilder.org).

What are the benefits of joining the BioBuilderClub?

BioBuilderClub offers current biological engineering challenges so that students may experience scientific problem-solving in the context of authentic and meaningful investigations.

Students feel like real scientists and may envision themselves as innovators who will change the world. STEM mentors serve as an important resource for teams, and provide a real-world glimpse into the possibilities of STEM research and careers.

BioBuilderClub also empowers teachers to be agents of educational reform by reconnecting them with their love of teaching and their own love of learning.

Teams work toward projects to be shared with the BioBuilderClub community at the annual “Final Assembly” event in March. This event provides an opportunity for wide exposure and positive feedback from student peers and scientists. Some teams choose to work toward publication in a synthetic biology journal for high school students.

 

What can participating teams expect?

BioBuilderClub engages high school teams around the world who want to use synthetic biology to develop novel biotechnologies. New U.S. teams receive a copy of the BioBuilder textbook. All teams are provided with laboratory kits and reagents, and have access to the our SLACK community to collaborate, ask questions, and find engaging content such as podcasts, articles, and interviews.

Students explore their ideas in partnership with practicing mentor scientists and engineers in academia, government, and industry. Mentors meet remotely with teams for up to 10 hours, answering student questions, refining project ideas, and offering their expert guidance.

The BioBuilderClub season concludes with an international “Final Assembly” conference in March to exhibit projects at any stage of completion, from pitch to prototype.

Are there any dates I should keep in mind?

YES!

  • October – Season Opening (10/04/21),
  • February – Registration closes (02/11/22)
  • March – Final Assembly (Date to be announced)

Who’s on a team?

Each team should have 10 or fewer students and one or two high school teachers as the team leader(s).

If more than 10 students are interested, we welcome participation of multiple teams from the same school. These teams can all be registered by the same team leader(s).

What does it cost to participate?

$400 per team.

Schools where 50% or more of the student body is eligible for free or reduced lunch may participate at no cost. Use code  BBC2021 when prompted during registration.

Cancellation Policy: Registration may be cancelled up until 10/04/2021. In such cases, a refund of registration fees will be issued, less any incurred payment processing fees. We are unable to refund registration fees for cancellations received  after 10/04/2021.

What will I need to get started?

The BioBuilderClub welcomes all teams, regardless of access to molecular biology laboratory facilities.

For teams wanting to DESIGN a biotechnology, you will need:

  • A teacher to lead the club.
  • At least one student to participate.
  • A good idea.
  • Some understanding of DNA as the coding language for cells.
  • Access to a computer and the internet.

For teams wanting to DESIGN and BUILD a biotechnology, you will need:
All the above plus…

  • Some basic biology laboratory equipment such as glassware, pipettes, a water bath or heat block to heat samples, an ice bucket or styrofoam cup to cool samples, 4C fridge and ice-cold freezer (ideally to -20C) to store samples, a stir plate to mix samples, and an incubator to grow samples (though room temperature can work too). Some experiments might need a chemical hood, depending on what you are building.
  • Some basic consumable laboratory equipment such as pipet tips, plastic tubes, growth media, petri dishes, toothpicks, spreaders, sterile loops, bleach or the like for decontamination and disposal of bioreagents.

For teams wanting to DESIGN and BUILD and TEST a biotechnology, you will need:
All the above plus…

  • Some additional basic biology laboratory equipment such as electrophoresis chambers, spectrophotometer, and PCR machine.
  • Some additional consumable laboratory equipment such as gel running buffers, loading buffers, stains to visualize DNA or proteins, cuvettes, PCR master mix, autoclave for sterilizing reagents.

Regardless of a team’s goals, all participants will need to submit a media/photo release and liability consent form. A team photo is requested and all students will be asked to complete a pre- and post- survey form.

How are teams supported?

From their first days as a team to the Final Assembly, teams are supported with remote expertise to guide their work.

Teams will be given access to the BioBuilderClub Slack channel, where they can collaborate with their team, connect with mentors, ask questions of the global community, and find engaging content, such as podcasts, articles, and interviews.

For teams who are ready to move from the design to the build phase of their project ideas, New England BioLabs provides certain reagents at no cost.

Teams will be paired with an industry mentor, who will provide remote guidance and feedback specific to the project the team is working on.

I have a team! Where do I find the Team Resources page?

We have a BioBuilderClub Slack channel for you! Find it here.

If you need help accessing the Slack channel, please reach out (info@biobuilder.org).

Is there a place I can find past projects?

Now there is! Check out the Project Library that’s here:

http://biobuilderclub-library.org/

Many of our teams go on to publish in Biotreks, a peer-reviewed journal for high school synthetic biologists. Read up on their work here:

http://biotreks.org/

I'm a working scientist or engineer. How do I get involved as a volunteer mentor?

Please complete this form to sign up as a BioBuilderClub Mentor. If you have additional questions, you may contact us (info@biobuilder.org) with the subject line “BioBuilderClub Mentor Inquiry.”

Mentors include grad students, post docs, and scientists in the field. Mentors primarily serve as a resource for teams, particularly as they work toward their project to be exhibited at the Final Assembly in March.

The minimum time contribution expected of mentors is approximately 1 hour per month (October – December), and 2 hours per month (January – March), which may include team calls and email correspondence.

All mentoring occurs virtually, due to the diverse geographic locations in which both teams and mentors are located. Mentors are matched with teams in early-December.

You can sign up as a BioBuilderClub mentor here.
Or contact us at info@biobuilder.org with any questions.


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