High-Tech Biology Kits for the Next Generation of Scientists
The BioBits Project was started by a group of synthetic biology researchers at Northwestern University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, who wanted to help students learn biology by doing biology. Their aim was to enable students to perform a range of simple, hands-on biological experiments without the need for specialized lab equipment and at a fraction of the cost of current standard experimental designs. To achieve their goal, the researchers have developed educational biology kits with a range of molecular experiments that can be performed using a system of freeze-dried, cell-free reactions, each coupled to a signal that students can easily detect with their sense of sight, smell, or touch. The first kit they developed, BioBits Bright, was designed to engage the sense of sight. Expanding on BioBits Bright, BioBits Explorer includes experiments that engage the senses of smell and touch. One experiment, for example, uses a sensor that glows fluorescent in the presence of banana or kiwi DNA. Another experiment creates a compound that smells like bananas. A third experiment results in a squishy hydrogel, which students can touch and manipulate. BioBits lab kits and accompanying curricula were developed to meet standards for K–12 STEM education. The research team plans to refine the kits’ design and create an open-source online database where teachers and students can share their results, as well as their ideas for modifying the kits and exploring different biological questions. An online video presents interviews of the project’s founders, experimental demos, and more.
Since 1983 the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) have been recognizing excellent educators spanning all corners of the countryâfrom one-room schoolhouses in rural Montana to large school systems in the heart of New York City.
Steven Wang got into the tech field about seven years ago—as a pre-adolescent. Now, at 17, he has a concrete vision for how he wants to use technology to transform the learning experiences of students all over the world. He is CEO and cofounder of a startup company called Realism that offers virtual labs in physics, chemistry, and biology.
Alive Studios’ Rugs alive are colorful classroom rugs that come to life with the freeRugs alive app for iOS and Android devices. Students can learn about the world’s animal habitats, explore 26 animals in 3D, take fun photos with their favorite animal, brush up on uppercase and lowercase letters, and more.