Usually, when we think about the word “education” we start reminiscing about our school days. While schools and universities are a major part of our education, we believe the journey should not stop there. We know that education is a lifelong journey and that is how we approached this special prize. Thus, in our iGEM journey we wanted to include the full scale of ages: children, young adults, working-age people and elderlies.

Read about our education journey by scrolling down or pressing the images of our events. We also made some exercises so reading this page can be part of your education journey!


Ilpoinen kindergarten visit

We started our journey with 2 to 5 year olds. We met with Aino Kiviniemi, a local pre-school teacher, to discuss children’s learning abilities and concentration skills. We learned that children are captivated more easily if a story is included in the tasks they are doing. Also colors and working with their own hands helps them to concentrate and understand different concepts.

After we learned, it was the children's turn to learn. To introduce synthetic biology in simpler terms we organized a cell building workshop: the children got to decorate styrofoam balls, the cells, in order to learn about modifying cell’s functions (Figure 1.). We listened to Aino’s advice and told the children that Doctor Dolphin needs their help to decorate the dull empty balls into colorful working cells. We asked the children what kind of cells they built and we got a lot of creative answers: some cells could jump to space, others could create balloons and some live under the table.

According to Aino the kids can be quite messy sometimes and that got us thinking about the importance of cleanliness in lab work. Therefore, the second workshop we organized for the children was about lab safety and working without making a mess. We first talked about the rules of the lab and explained them with pictures. Then, to give them a taste of lab work: the children got to perform a simple experiment with baking soda and food dyed vinegar. (Figure 2.)

Do you know what you should do in the lab and what not?

Think about your answer and then click the photo to reveal the right one!

Washing hands
Touching your face
Safety equipment



Figure 3. Tiedekoulu student looking through a microscope to examine the results of the DNA extraction.

The journey continues to Tiedekoulu which is a science school for children. They encourage kids to trust their skills with problem-solving and when facing different obstacles by teaching science in various forms. They organize STEAM STEAM derives from the letters Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. hobbies in over 20 regions in Finland and their learning paths are programming, natural science and robotics. We visited their Turku location.

Before the visit we talked with the development director of Tiedekoulu Nina Kainulainen and together we decided to hold a workshop about cells and DNA extraction for 4 to 12 year olds. We first talked with the children about DNA, different kinds of cells and then lab safety. After the introduction we extracted DNA from bananas and looked at the results via microscope.(Figure 3.)

Can you put these different work steps in the right order?

Place steps to the right order and click check button to see how you did!

Work steps Work order

Transport the mixture in to test tube and pour ethanol or isopropyl carefully along the edge of the tube.


Clean up your working area and wash your hands.


Peel the banana and place it into a sealable bag.


Close the bag and squeeze the bag until banana is a mush. Try to avoid foam.


Prepare the filter system by placing a filter paper into a funnel under a glass.


Admire the extracted banana's DNA that is between the filtered mix and alcohol.


Add 1 decilitre of water and little bit of soap.


Pour the banana mix into the filter system and lit it drop for 20 minutes.



DNA, RNA and protein. The power trio we biofield students have heard about countless of times. Although we have heard about it, it does not mean everyone else has. This is why we organized a workshop in Heureka about this central dogma of molecular biology. Heureka is a science center in Vantaa that has changing exhibitions about various science subjects. To continue a tradition we did this event as a collaboration with the Aalto-Helsinki team.

Figure 4. A child building a RNA model at the Heureka science center.

In our workshop the visitors got to build DNA, RNA and amino acids. (Figure 4.) We taught them about DNA, RNA and the base-pairing rule: adenine (A) binds to thymine (T) and guanine (G) binds to cytosine (C). RNA has the base pairs except thymine which is replaced with uracil (C). To the younger ones we had a task to sort various objects according to if they have DNA in them or not. Because this workshop was meant for all ages we had the chance to teach DNA with molecular terms and also by using terms from the children’s favorite TV-shows like the Paw Patrol.

Do you want to try the online version of our Heureka workshop?

First the DNA strain needs its complementary strain. Can you build it according to the existing strain?















Now when our DNA is complete we need RNA. Can you build the RNA according to the DNA strain you just built?















Finally it is time to build the protein. Can you figure out the amino acids that the newly built RNA represents by the chart below? The chart is according to the base pairs in DNA (NOTE: RNA has one different base pair). To reveal the answer, click the chart!

Missing amino
correct answer

Upper secondary

KSYK - Kulosaari upper secondary school

Then our journey takes a turn down a memory lane: we visited Sara and Mariel’s old upper secondary school called Kulosaaren Yhteiskoulu.

Figure 5. Sara and Saana ready to teach synthetic biology to a biology class of upper secondary students.

The class we taught have their matriculation exams coming up in the autumn and a part of the biology exam is about the applications of biology. It includes genetic modification, synthetic biology and the different techniques of biochemistry. To help the students we explained some genetic modification terms and went over some techniques and requirements they hold. (Figure 5.) In addition, we know how tiring it is to stare at the same text book images over and over again, so we made an educational comic for them about the basis of gene modification.

Besides the exams and studying, we wanted to encourage innovative thinking and have a discussion about the possibilities that university studies, synthetic biology and iGEM brings. At the end of our presentation about our project and iGEM we asked the students to brainstorm their own iGEM project ideas in small groups. Various great project ideas came up such as fighting malaria with synthetic biology tools, inventing a protein that detoxifies blood and many more. It was wonderful to see how the students really got to thinking and hear that some even talked about their idea when leaving the class to recess.

Young adults

Today in Synthetic Biology with ABOA- educational campaign

To reach young adults we knew to turn to the social media department. We made an educational campaign on Instagram about synthetic biology, different terms regarding it and our project. Scientific communication is often quite challenging because you have to keep things simple and interesting but at the same time have the facts correct. To help with this we looked through what other iGEM teams have done in the past and learned from them. We decided to go with a news inspired campaign which was called Today in Synthetic Biology with ABOA and we posted these on Instagram.

Can you finish the different definitions?

Study in Turku

Study In Turku is a fair for all the new students of Turku each year. To welcome the new students, we organized a workshop in this event. (Figure 6.) The goal was to teach the basic lab skills like using pipettes and to give the first taste of synthetic biology for many students.

We are proudly a diverse team with students from outside biofields for example from social studies, animation and computer sciences. We know that this project and synthetic biology in general needs people from various backgrounds and skills. That is why we wanted to focus on teaching all the sides synthetic biology has to offer by emphasizing that the synbio community needs the know-how of other industries too and they are welcome to join us next year.

Figure 6. Saana was excited to tell new students about synthetic biology and about our ABOA team.

We remember how hectic the beginning of university was and the information wave that hit us then. This is why we wanted to hand out flyers to the new students so they could later read more about us and our project.

Working age

Bioindustries conference

Figure 7. ABOA team members at the Bioindustries conference.

We were invited to the Bioindustries conference on the 19th of April. (Figure 7.) There the experts from various organizations and companies held presentations about synthetic biology and how it can be used in current solutions. We learned a lot in this conference, such as what are the recent developments, struggles and solutions in the bioindustry. Although the experts have traveled a longer educational journey than we have, we believe we taught them something too. We held a presentation about iGEM, our project and how we, young scientists, are entering this diverse field. After the presentations there was reserved time for casual conversations. We got to talk, ask and answer questions from these experts and also the 2022 Aalto-Helsinki team.

Can you answer these True or False statements regarding recent developments in the bioindustries?

Click the picture to reveal the right answer.

Israel was the first country to allow sales of lab-grown meat.
Egg white proteins can be produced without chickens
The fastest recording for sequensing the human genome is 1 day and 15 hours
Artificial intelligence can be used to predict protein folding

“Bring your loved one to lab” - event series

Our original plan was to host a lab workshop for the public and gain some funds for the team. The laboratory work we do is quite unknown and mysterious to many. We planned the date and advertised the workshop on social media, in local buildings with fliers and even got our workshop in the official calendar for events happening in Turku. Unfortunately nobody signed up and we could not hold the workshop. We did not want to give up on this idea to break down the mystery behind the lab work so we did not: we brought our loved ones to our laboratory facilities to get to know the work we do and experience it themselves. To broaden the crowd we posted photos to our social media accounts about these laboratory visits.

Although everything did not go according to the original plan we still got to teach many adults about laboratory work, cyanobacteria and bring laboratory work closer to the general public.

Photosynthetic microbes in biotechnology - report for the general public

Cyanobacteria and the model organism we are using, the Synechocystis, is not commonly known and this is why we wanted to spread knowledge about them and their great potential. We wrote a report with team Edinburgh for the general public about these photosynthetic microorganisms and biosafety concerning the use of GMOs. You can read more about this collaboration on the Collaborations page.

Here is the final report as a PDF file:

Turku’s comic festival

Although the wiki freeze is on the 14th of October, we do not want to stop our journey there. We have a planned visit to the Turku’s Comic Festival on the 14th of October. Organizing a synthetic biology comic workshop we try to teach and inspire the visitors and break the stereotype that science and art does not mix. Art is a great way to learn difficult subjects because it visualizes the process and makes it easier to understand what happens. In addition, funny comic characters and a storyline makes things easier to remember.

The Science Basement joint talk

Bioremediation is another concept of synthetic biology that might not be familiar to many. Therefore, we had a joint talk with the Aalto-Helsinki team about bioremediation and the potential it holds at the Helsinki Central Library. The Science Basement, non-profit organization creating opportunities for scientific communication, hosted the talk and gave us the opportunity to teach the general public about the innovating ways we can restore our environment by using living organisms. We had a training session before the joint talk where we discussed how to approach scientific communcation. We learned that scientific terms should always be explained, explanations and examples should be kept simple and different points and topics should be introduced one at a time.

You can ready more about the collaboration on our Collaborations or Communication page.

Figure 8. Ami, Sara and Ida in Science Basement.


Ruusukorttelin hyvinvointikeskus

When we contacted different senior centers and nursery homes, most of them were quite hesitant about our subject. They thought that synthetic biology is too difficult to understand by their customers. That was the first thing we learnt when organizing this event: the term synthetic biology can be overwhelming and therefore we need to change our communication style.

After some phone calls, where we explained our plan to educate everyone regardless of their age, Ruusukorttelin Hyvinvointikeskus (in English Ruusukortteli’s wellness center) understood us and we got to hold a presentation for their customers. They emphaziced that the presentation should be kept simple and that is what we did.

Before the presentation we asked what the audience already knows about bacteria, genetic modification and synthetic biology. We also wanted to know what opinions or feelings these subjects evoke. The term bacteria started a discussion regarding pathogens and the differences between viruses and bacteria. A member of the audience knew that the term genetic modification means modifying the DNA and the genes of an organism. Synthetic biology did not ring a bell to anyone.

After the starter conversation we went over the basic terms of synthetic biology for example cells, genes and genetic modification. After the basics we went over the role synthetic biology has in our current and the future solutions. We know that genetic engineering causes fear and this is why we wanted to go over biosafety, the ethics of genetic modifications and also the possible threats that genetic engineering holds. At the end of the presentation we asked what does the audience now know about synthetic biology and how do they feel about it. They said they learned a lot and were surprised that insulin is produced in yeast cells. One member of the audience said that she is excited to read more about the insulin production at home and tell her diabetic friend about it.

Figure 9. A wellness center customer pipetting.

To introduce lab work we brought our lab equipment such as pipettes with us and we guided the audience how to use them. They tried pipetting, plating and were excited to ask questions about the different equipment.

The impact we had

When planning our project we wanted to have a broad impact and this applies also to education. We did this by including members from all ages in this journey. To make this impact last we intended to make these events memorable by having interactive parts like lab work, comics and brainstorming.

The impact we wish to have continues beyond our project: we hope the future iGEM teams can use this page to include members from different age groups in their own education journey. To help fulfill this wish we documented our journey to this page and shared the lesson we learned, the ways to approach different age groups and what kind of workshops we held for inspiration to all iGEM teams and to whomever wants to teach about synthetic biology and its different aspects.

We wanted to spread knowledge so there would be less mistrust towards each other and synthetic biology and therefore more teamwork. We believe we accomplished this goal one event at a time.

The impact we experienced

This whole year has been one big learning journey for us: more like a rollercoaster of education. This project has taught us lab work, project skills, team leading, website coding and much more. In addition, the lessons we learned through the conversations and experiences while holding these educational events: how to approach people with science education, different attitudes regarding synthetic biology and how different people respond to the teaching. We really enjoyed the ride and hope that we got you to join us on this journey with the texts and exercises presented on this page.

The photos were created with Canva and the amino acid chart is from Pixabay.