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Title: BioBits™ Explorer: A modular synthetic biology education kit

Abstract

Hands-on demonstrations greatly enhance the teaching of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts and foster engagement and exploration in the sciences. While numerous chemistry and physics classroom demonstrations exist, few biology demonstrations are practical and accessible due to the challenges and concerns of growing living cells in classrooms. We introduce BioBits™ Explorer, a synthetic biology educational kit based on shelf-stable, freeze-dried, cell-free (FD-CF) reactions, which are activated by simply adding water. The FD-CF reactions engage the senses of sight, smell, and touch with outputs that produce fluorescence, fragrances, and hydrogels, respectively. We introduce components that can teach tunable protein expression, enzymatic reactions, biomaterial formation, and biosensors using RNA switches, some of which represent original FD-CF outputs that expand the toolbox of cell-free synthetic biology. The BioBits™ Explorer kit enables hands-on demonstrations of cutting-edge science that are inexpensive and easy to use, circumventing many current barriers for implementing exploratory biology experiments in classrooms.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [4]; ORCiD logo [5];  [5]; ORCiD logo [6];  [3]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [7]; ORCiD logo [8]; ORCiD logo [9]
  1. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States); Harvard Univ., Boston, MA (United States)
  2. Harvard Univ., Boston, MA (United States); Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA (United States)
  3. Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL (United States)
  4. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States)
  5. Harvard Univ., Boston, MA (United States)
  6. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States); Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA (United States)
  7. Univ. of Toronto, ON (Canada)
  8. Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL (United States); Northwestern Univ., Chicago, IL (United States)
  9. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States); Harvard Univ., Boston, MA (United States); Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA (United States); Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, Cambridge, MA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1499921
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0018249
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Science Advances
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 4; Journal Issue: 8; Journal ID: ISSN 2375-2548
Publisher:
AAAS
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Huang, Ally, Nguyen, Peter Q., Stark, Jessica C., Takahashi, Melissa K., Donghia, Nina, Ferrante, Tom, Dy, Aaron J., Hsu, Karen J., Dubner, Rachel S., Pardee, Keith, Jewett, Michael C., and Collins, James J. BioBits™ Explorer: A modular synthetic biology education kit. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aat5105.
Huang, Ally, Nguyen, Peter Q., Stark, Jessica C., Takahashi, Melissa K., Donghia, Nina, Ferrante, Tom, Dy, Aaron J., Hsu, Karen J., Dubner, Rachel S., Pardee, Keith, Jewett, Michael C., & Collins, James J. BioBits™ Explorer: A modular synthetic biology education kit. United States. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aat5105.
Huang, Ally, Nguyen, Peter Q., Stark, Jessica C., Takahashi, Melissa K., Donghia, Nina, Ferrante, Tom, Dy, Aaron J., Hsu, Karen J., Dubner, Rachel S., Pardee, Keith, Jewett, Michael C., and Collins, James J. Wed . "BioBits™ Explorer: A modular synthetic biology education kit". United States. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aat5105. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1499921.
@article{osti_1499921,
title = {BioBits™ Explorer: A modular synthetic biology education kit},
author = {Huang, Ally and Nguyen, Peter Q. and Stark, Jessica C. and Takahashi, Melissa K. and Donghia, Nina and Ferrante, Tom and Dy, Aaron J. and Hsu, Karen J. and Dubner, Rachel S. and Pardee, Keith and Jewett, Michael C. and Collins, James J.},
abstractNote = {Hands-on demonstrations greatly enhance the teaching of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts and foster engagement and exploration in the sciences. While numerous chemistry and physics classroom demonstrations exist, few biology demonstrations are practical and accessible due to the challenges and concerns of growing living cells in classrooms. We introduce BioBits™ Explorer, a synthetic biology educational kit based on shelf-stable, freeze-dried, cell-free (FD-CF) reactions, which are activated by simply adding water. The FD-CF reactions engage the senses of sight, smell, and touch with outputs that produce fluorescence, fragrances, and hydrogels, respectively. We introduce components that can teach tunable protein expression, enzymatic reactions, biomaterial formation, and biosensors using RNA switches, some of which represent original FD-CF outputs that expand the toolbox of cell-free synthetic biology. The BioBits™ Explorer kit enables hands-on demonstrations of cutting-edge science that are inexpensive and easy to use, circumventing many current barriers for implementing exploratory biology experiments in classrooms.},
doi = {10.1126/sciadv.aat5105},
journal = {Science Advances},
number = 8,
volume = 4,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {8}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 15 works
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Figures / Tables:

Fig. 1 Fig. 1: BioBits™ kits: Freeze-dried educational kits. (A) FD-CF demonstrations require only the addition of water to the supplied reactions and incubation for 1 to 20 hours at 25° to 37°C for observation and analysis by students. In contrast, traditional biology experiments require substantial time, resources, and specialized equipment. (B)more » With the DNA template and any substrate molecules provided with the FD-CF reaction, the students just have to add water to run a number of bioscience activities and demonstrations.« less

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