Team:SUNY Oneonta/Education

iGEM Logo 2020

SUNY Oneonta iGEM

Education Outreach – the CDO GoSTEM Institute 2020 “Engineering with Biology”

The CDO-STEM GoSTEM camp is a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) experience for Middle Schoolers sponsored by the CDO STEM Leadership Council and the AJ Read Science Discovery Center at SUNY Oneonta. The goal of this camp, which is held annually during one week in July, is to promote STEM skills for residents in Otsego, Delaware, and Chenango counties and to encourage kids to pursue STEM careers. Our team volunteered to run this year's camp. Although in the past the camp was held in person, we needed to alter the camp to a three-week virtual experience because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Figure 1: Poster Advertising Engineering With Biology, a three week virtual STEM Summer Camp.
Figure 1: Poster Advertising Engineering With Biology, a three week virtual STEM Summer Camp.

Our team was responsible for developing and organizing this year’s GoSTEM camp, themed “Engineering with Biology”. Camp activities were held Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for 4h each day for three weeks in July. Even though the camp was online, we wanted it to involve a lot of hands-on-activities. Thus, we designed wet lab activities that could be done at home, and prepared kits for each student with the materials needed to complete them.

Among the hands-on activities were an experiment that involved transforming E. coli DH5 bacteria with pGLO plasmid (1), performing a miniprep (2), and agarose gel electrophoresis using common household items (3). We tested each lab activity and then assembled take home kits for each camper. We also had the campers construct a mini centrifuge using a hand drill and biohack a heat block for use in the wet lab activities, and test the functionality of the heat block (4).

Along with the activities themselves, we also designed curriculum for the camp, and facilitated activities for the student participants. We prepared a presentation for the participants about Ca2LF to show them how synthetic biology can be used to help our community, and taught the campers about iGEM. We developed an iGEM project scavenger hunt and created a Synthetic Biology Bingo game. In addition to all of this, each member of the iGEM team acted as a mentor, which allowed us to build connections with the campers. We facilitated the small group activities, such as an Engineering a Superhero activity, a synthetic biology ethics activity adapted from the Building with Biology public forum, “Editing Our Evolution” (5), and the scavenger hunt and bingo games we made.


  1. PGLO Bacterial Transformation Kit. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2020, from
  2. Hi-Speed Mini Plasmid Kit. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2020, from
  3. Ens, S., Olson, A. B., Dudley, C., Ross, N. D., Siddiqi, A. A., Umoh, K. M., & Schneegurt, M. A. (2012). Inexpensive and safe DNA gel electrophoresis using household materials. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education,40(3), 198-203. doi:10.1002/bmb.20596
  4. By: Dan Maloney, Maloney, D., Says:, E., Says:, R., Says:, W., & Says:, L. (2018, November 13). Hacked Heating Instruments For The DIY Biology Lab. Retrieved October 25, 2020, from
  5. Editing Our Evolution: Rewriting the Human Genome forum. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2020, from