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BioBits Health: Classroom Activities Exploring Engineering, Biology, and Human Health with Fluorescent Readouts

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-03-29, 00:00 authored by Jessica C. Stark, Ally Huang, Karen J. Hsu, Rachel S. Dubner, Jason Forbrook, Suzanne Marshalla, Faith Rodriguez, Mechelle Washington, Grant A. Rybnicky, Peter Q. Nguyen, Brenna Hasselbacher, Ramah Jabri, Rijha Kamran, Veronica Koralewski, Will Wightkin, Thomas Martinez, Michael C. Jewett
Recent advances in synthetic biology have resulted in biological technologies with the potential to reshape the way we understand and treat human disease. Educating students about the biology and ethics underpinning these technologies is critical to empower them to make informed future policy decisions regarding their use and to inspire the next generation of synthetic biologists. However, hands-on, educational activities that convey emerging synthetic biology topics can be difficult to implement due to the expensive equipment and expertise required to grow living cells. We present BioBits Health, an educational kit containing lab activities and supporting curricula for teaching antibiotic resistance mechanisms and CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing in high school classrooms. This kit links complex biological concepts to visual, fluorescent readouts in user-friendly freeze-dried cell-free reactions. BioBits Health represents a set of educational resources that promises to encourage teaching of cutting-edge, health-related synthetic biology topics in classrooms and other nonlaboratory settings.