BioBuilder for Teachers

The comprehensive curricular materials offered here present exciting possibilities in teaching Synthetic Biology, including the chance to engage your students as problem solvers and explorers in this emerging field. You’ll find tips and practical advice for getting started, as well as assessment tools and reagents lists. Try some or all of the available activities and discover additional ways to take part in BioBuilder programming.

Why teach BioBuilder

Aligned with both the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, the BioBuilder curriculum brings modern context to ideas and content traditionally taught in high school and college classes. At the high school level, it has been used in General, Honors, and AP Biology as well as Biotechnology classes, and in college engineering and microbiology lab classes. BioBuilder content is also adaptable to middle school and afterschool club settings. Students all over the world form teams to participate in the BioBuilder Club in order to design and build biotechnologies.

The BioBuilder Curriculum

Each component of this curriculum focuses on different, but related, aspects of biology and synthetic biology. We provide a wide range of open-source materials for teachers to lead hands-on labs and in-class activities. Our curriculum is modular and can be taught completely, in any order, or as an individual exercise to supplement an existing program based on student interest, content knowledge and skill level.


Eau That Smell

In this lab, normally stinky smelling bacteria are made to smell sweet, like bananas. You can learn to grow microbial cells, measure their growth, analyze their genes on a molecular level, and learn basic synthetic biology concepts related to system design and logic gates.


iTune Device

This lab focuses on predictable design. You can learn to assess the strength of genetic “parts,” such as promoters and ribosome binding sites, to see how they influence the output of a genetic device.


Picture This

Modeling and design of a genetic circuit is presented through three activities. You’ll learn how a two component sensing system can be modeled and then re-engineered to produce bacterial photographs.


What a Colorful World

In this lab, two cell types are transformed with two color-generating plasmids, a process that is fundamental to genetics and inheritance lessons, molecular biology, and research examining DNA and gene expression.


Bioethics Essay

Synthetic biology has only recently emerged as an engineering discipline. Students are asked to weigh in on the question: Do the potential contributions to society warrant the potential risks inherent in synthetic biology?


Biology By Design

Combining your understanding of science, some engineering know-how and lots of imagination, you will propose a design for a genetic system that could make a significant contribution to life on earth.


Golden Bread

With this lab you can explore the science, engineering, and bioethics of a yeast that’s genetically modified to make a vitamin-enriched food. Explore how the cell’s “break,” how to fix them, and what they might do in locations where Vitamin A-deficiency affects public health.

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