At-Home, Cell-Free Synthetic Biology Education Modules for Transcriptional Regulation and Environmental Water Quality Monitoring

Jaeyoung K. Jung, Blake J. Rasor, Grant A. Rybnicky, Adam D. Silverman, Janet Standeven, Robert Kuhn, Teresa Granito, Holly M. Ekas, Brenda M. Wang, Ashty S. Karim, Julius B. Lucks*, Michael C. Jewett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

As the field of synthetic biology expands, the need to grow and train science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) practitioners is essential. However, the lack of access to hands-on demonstrations has led to inequalities of opportunity and practice. In addition, there is a gap in providing content that enables students to make their own bioengineered systems. To address these challenges, we develop four shelf-stable cell-free biosensing educational modules that work by simply adding water and DNA to freeze-dried crude extracts of non-pathogenic Escherichia coli. We introduce activities and supporting curricula to teach the structure and function of the lac operon, dose-responsive behavior, considerations for biosensor outputs, and a “build-your-own” activity for monitoring environmental contaminants in water. We piloted these modules with K-12 teachers and 130 high-school students in their classrooms─and at home─without professional laboratory equipment. This work promises to catalyze access to interactive synthetic biology education opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2909-2921
Number of pages13
JournalACS synthetic biology
Volume12
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 20 2023

Keywords

  • biotechnology
  • cell-free
  • education
  • lac operon
  • synthetic biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'At-Home, Cell-Free Synthetic Biology Education Modules for Transcriptional Regulation and Environmental Water Quality Monitoring'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this