I wasn’t quite prepared for the impact BioBuilder was going to make, and how much it would revolutionize how I teach science, and rejuvenate me as a science educator.”

Jo-Anne Purdy

Jo has been a biology teacher for 26 years and a BioBuilder from the very start, having attended the very first Professional Development workshop at MIT in 2011. Since then, she has integrated BioBuilder into her classroom (Newton North and Westborough High Schools in MA), supporting a BioBuilderClub that was led by Viggy (Season 1 Episode 6), and leading teacher professional development workshops. In this conversation she digs into what it takes to run BioBuilder labs and programs, as well as how evolution of the field has made the content easier to teach and more relevant to everyone.  

Over the past decade, she has found that teaching BioBuilder to students and teachers has gotten easier thanks to the success of the field. She regularly teaches how synthetic biology enables the production of Vanillin from yeast rather than plants and how Ginkgo Bioworks can resurrect the scent of an extinct flower.  These examples, as well as how students rely on “their best friends: Google, Siri, and Alexa,” have made teaching BioBuilder easier and easier.  She also recalls how the first BioBuilder workshop required 5 days of in person learning, and how it transitioned to 3 days of in person learning, and how now – post COVID – BioBuilder teachers are trained in a hybrid model of synchronous and asynchronous learning to reach educators everywhere.

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