Increasing access to SynBio: Hosting our own competition
Introduction & Rationale:
Biologix is a free biotechnology and synthetic biology entrepreneurial and innovation competition. It is an accessible opportunity for all students in their penultimate year of high school to take part in a skill-enhancing project. During this competition all the essential skills of project development will be acquired, which will help enhance students’ CV and Personal Statement by teaching them a wide variety of skills.
The competition is intended to introduce students to synthetic biology and foster their passion for the field, hence encouraging them to start an iGEM team or become a member of an iGEM team at their future university. Biologix aims to stimulate students to create a solution to a world problem of their choice, using biotechnology and synthetic biology. The teams are composed of six members each, and the primary task will be to research and argue a solution, for the chosen problem, through literature review. Once the research is completed, students will be required to complete a lean business plan and a section explaining the skills they have learnt in the Biologix competition. The project must then be presented in two parts; a report explaining how the final goal has been reached and the defence for the solution of the chosen problem; followed by a presentation that will be done through video-call. Finally, after each group has submitted their project, they will receive another team’s project and will be asked to peer assess it. The marking scheme has been provided in the handbook below; teams will be attributed with bronze, silver and gold medals depending on the quality of their work. Furthermore, special awards for the best presentation, best report, entrepreneur and science communication will be assigned to projects that will show outstanding qualities in these sections.
The schools will receive the teacher and student pack in October, and the projects will have to be submitted in February. A more detailed timeline is supplied in the chart below.
A PDF handbook has been created to help the teams participating in the competition, containing all the necessary instruction to realise an outstanding project. Furthermore, the competition is also provided of a website, a useful tool for finding further information and getting in contact with the committee.
Looking forward, with Biologix, we aim to create a starting point for other teams or external parties from which they can build on. With the creation of the competition website we already started working on the realisation of such objective. The website will represent a platform thanks to which we shall be able to work with other teams, creating additional educational content and giving them the possibility to offer the experience of the competition in their home country/location as well. Furthermore, by supplementing competition documents, such as the ones cited earlier, we assure to provide open sources, in order for them to have a clear outline on how to run the competition. Lastly, we hope to develop a sponsorship with various affiliated communities, in primis STEM UK, in order to assure the competition a broader audience, as well as a fantastic opportunity for students to start creating a network for themselves in the STEM community.