Education Education | Estonia-TUIT - iGEM 2023


We diversify our teaching methods to unite more people!

Teaching philosophy statement

Goals and methods to achieve them

Include more diverse groups into life-sciences and synthetic biology

Organizing and participating in events around Estonia and worldwide to target diverse social groups:

Boost confidence and motivation

  • create a welcoming atmosphere and cultivate the feeling of belonging

  • provide feedback to participants

  • adjust difficulty level of tasks to keep students interested in the topic - neither too easy nor too hard level of assignments

  • Improve performance and study outcomes - learning should be interACTIVE, engaging, and moderately challenging, additionally including the involvement on a personal level is beneficial.

  • Emphasize the importance of successful completion of the task is important for higher motivation and achievement of better results.

  • Design the task to be “identity-relevant” for participants-it leads to an increase in motivation to complete the task successfully and consequently to better learning outcomes (Britt, 2005).

Improve problem-solving skills

  • Allow students to troubleshoot unsuccessful experiments, and positively reinforce creative approaches

  • Teach to accept the fact that mistakes are part of the learning process. Success is the result of consistent, multiple attempts when you incorporate the experience you get from failures.

Encourage self-paced learning

  • Online games and printable study materials

  • Video tutorials of workshops

  • Comic book

Inclusive Environment

We host and participate in events for very diverse groups of people: various age groups

Sucess metrics

We get instant feedback from workshop participants, our educational unit is in high demand as we constantly get invited to different public events, we also receive feedback from people whom we inspired to study life-sciences.

Interactive Teaching and Learning



Our team considers the educational part of the project to be very important. During the iGEM season we organize and participate in already traditional events, host international summer school and aim to reach as many diverse communities as possible.

We engage, interact, support, encourage, motivate, and include diverse groups of people in Life-sciences and Synthetic biology.

For that, we design, organize, and participate in various educational activities like:

We travel locally and internationally to various locations, participate in summer festivals, education fairs, science days and other events, where we conduct workshops, educate a general audience of different ages, nationalities, level of education, provide them with learning tools to deepen their knowledge and understanding of scientific topics, show that science can and SHOULD be FUN.

Our efforts serve to make science-based education accessible to a broader community.

Estonia TUIT follows the evidence-based learning principle when designing educational events and materials.

Target different senses

We design our educational activities to target different senses of participants. While traditional teaching methods focus mostly on seeing and listening, we aim to include as many senses as possible. Incorporating different senses into the studying process enables us to research the topic from a different perspective and allows us to use all the sensory tools that were evolutionarily developed to help humans learn and survive.

Physical interaction

We encourage physical interaction of participants with the subject of the study, like during a DNA extraction workshop you need to first crush the kiwi to release cells, then mix it with soap and salt to break the member, filter, precipitate and look at the DNA. And even though this process reminds you of cooking, it teaches you a lot: the composition of the cell membrane and how soap breaks it, why we need to add salt to the solution and what happens if we forget, or why addition of ethanol precipitates DNA.

Emotions and Excitement

We create positive emotions and excitement. Since we are all very excited about what we do, we inspire by example and demonstrate that synthetic biology can be fun! This raises the interest of the participants to the subject of study and sufficiently increases the learning outcomes, since it is a well-known concept that we learn better things we are interested in or care about!

Accessible at home

We ensure that workshop participants get the opportunity to continue doing experiments at home as we provide our protocols to the participants. Moreover, most of our workshops could be repeated at home with the components that could be easily found in the department store. To engage even more people in our workshops, we publish them on our wiki for other teams to use. Moreover, we have translated protocols to 9 languages to enable other teams to use them in local communities.

Target different ages

Our workshops are meant for any age group or level of education. We do not believe in “One size fits all” philosophy and adjust our workshops for the target audience. Children up to 10 years old are usually more interested in the visual and sensory experience, and every time are very excited when we ask them to smash kiwi for our DNA extraction workshop. For high-schoolers we provide extensive instructions to explain the mechanism on why soap is used to break the cell membranes or what happens if we forget to add salt. Therefore, different groups of people come out from the workshop with slightly different outcomes.

Our workshop activities are designed, taking into account Estonia-TUIT's educational core values. They are practical (interactive), stimulate multiple senses (engaging), and provide explicit explanations of the scientific principles behind the engaging experiment (challenging). We try to fit the new information from the workshops to the real-life examples that are familiar and interesting for participants (to see the familiar things from a new angle). This approach makes it easier to fit acquired knowledge into the existing worldview.

For example, during the annual River Day festival in Narva, we conducted various workshops. One of them was microscopy, where we showed participants different samples like yeast and plant cells. To connect this quite specific information to the topic of the festival, we collected water samples from the river Narva. Then we demonstrated the protists living in the river to participants. This simple trick of connecting the workshop with real-life drastically increased interest and stimulated visitors to ask extra questions, making them more curious about the topic of the workshop.

We encourage participants to search for more information about life-science topics and provide explicit instructions on how to reproduce the results of the experiments. Workshops may also serve as an example and/or foundation for iGEM teams to use our educational materials to start a dialogue with the respective local communities, raising interest in science and leading to a better understanding of the scientific principles among the general audience.

To reach an even larger and more diverse community, we made interactive online educational activities and games to enable anyone who is interested or would like to become interested in life-science and synthetic biology to learn and study at their own pace, even if the only study tool available is a smartphone and internet connection.

This year, our team set a goal to educate a broader audience about magnificent insects - bees. About their amazing patterns of behavior and physical abilities, how everyone can help bees survive and prosper, and how new bioengineering technologies aim to revolutionize the world.

We made our traditional Art Exhibition and Escape Room event centered around the bees’ role in the environment and society. Additionally, we made a digital version of it, available on our Wiki, so a much more diverse audience could experience the event.

We designed a DNA puzzle where in the interactive game form, we teach players the fundamental principles of molecular biology - principle of the nucleotide complementarity.

We encourage other teams to follow our example and create more interactive materials to reach local and global communities. Together, we may make educational resources available to everyone

International Summer School of Molecular and Theoretical Biology (SMTB)

Already for the second year in a row, our team is one of the main organizers and hosts of the international summer School of Molecular and Theoretical Biology (SMTB)

This school brings together experts of the field from different countries (Germany, Spain, USA, Japan, etc.) together with talented high-school students from all around the globe for the intensive 2.5-week long course. High school students from over 20 countries came to Tartu for this excellent non-profit internship program. Under the guidance of esteemed scientists, these students had the opportunity to work in university labs, delving into unsolved scientific challenges. And they didn't just learn; they got a unique experience. There was a wide variety of courses offered, from bioinformatics to molecular genetics. Students expanded their horizons while collaborating closely with professors and postdocs. It was truly a summer of growth, collaboration, and discovery.

Our team members played an important role in organizing the school, making sure the school had all the necessary equipment, helping organize both the study and leisure processes, guiding the students, and making sure that everyone was safe.

Synthetic Biology Laboratory course

You can download the protocol here ===>   

Synthetic biology aims to become an engineering discipline with libraries of standardized parts and modules that can be combined to design, build, and validate complex biological systems with predicted behavior. From the very beginning, iGEM teams from around the world contributed to the development of such a library of the standardized biological parts (biobricks) - iGEM parts registry.

However, any engineering discipline requires use cases and teaching materials. This led to the idea of creating a set of biological logic gates with several inputs and outputs from the parts available in the iGEM registry. This set may become a foundation for the teaching material that can be used in specialized high schools, undergraduate college programs, and community labs.

The developed teaching material includes a list of materials and methods, primers’ sequences, and detailed instructions on how to clone transcriptional units, build S. cerevisiae strains and a logical truth table of the combinations of inputs and outputs.

We firmly believe that our teaching material makes a meaningful contribution to global efforts to educate and prepare trained professionals for the field of bioengineering and synthetic biology.

Escape Room and Art Exhibition

Estonia-TUIT iGEM team organized the Escape room and Art Exhibition for the 4th year in a row. This already traditional event took place on the 4th of October at the Drinkgeld cafeteria in the heart of Tartu, Estonia. People of different age groups, nationalities, and educational backgrounds participated in our event.

During the event we:

  • Raised awareness about bees’ population decline and its effects on human population, food security and global economy.

  • Prepared Kahoot quizzes that challenged the audience but also provided them with interesting facts about bees, molecular biology, and the history of the University of Tartu.

  • Addressed the emotional side of the visitors with the Art exhibition.

  • Encouraged further discussion about bee population decline.

  • Promoted teamwork and problem-solving skills in the Escape Room.

  • Educated participants about the topic of bees well-being and their role in the environment and human society.

Our team launched the Escape Room teaching activity in 2020, and since then always incorporated it in our outreach program. Every year, the escape room serves as a bridge between science and society by explaining complex scientific principles of our project in an understandable, engaging, and entertaining manner. Amazingly, the time slots for our already famous Escape room were fully booked weeks before the event.

We submerged the guests into the quest with the aim of saving bees. As participants tried to escape the room, they learned more about bee health, deformed wing virus, RNAi technology in a fun and entertaining way.

Escape Room is an excellent example of the Learn and Play teaching methodology. It improves multiple important skills: problem-solving, communication, teamwork, searching for information, making conclusions based on the limited amount of information and others. All these skills are essential for good researchers, but also to everyone, and creating an environment to boost the development of these skills is absolutely necessary.

To enable a much more diverse audience to experience the event our team digitized the

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Openness is one of our team’s core values and we wish to spread the educational resources we create among a broader audience. This is why we publish our designed games and visual materials on our Wiki so everyone can explore and try them.

Workshops: Tutorials and Protocols

To make science-related information and study materials more accessible to a broader audience, engage and include diverse communities in synthetic biology we create workshop protocols and materials. In this section you will find workshop protocols translated to different languages and video tutorials for them.

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Board games, Online Games and Visual Materials

We created board games and digital versions of them to educate an audience about magnificent insects - bees, their amazing patterns of behavior and physical abilities, and how everyone can help bees by planting a garden with a diverse set of flowers that bloom during different times of the year.

Insects flight speed game

Match the flight speed of different insects with the label on the board. This game often brings the WOW effect, since usually nobody knows how fast different insects fly, leaving people astonished and amazed by nature. Challenge yourself in a printable or online version of the game. How many correct matches did you get?

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Bee wiggle dance game

Bees use the "wiggle dance" to communicate the location of distant food sources to their hive mates. A dancing bee moves in a figure eight pattern, wiggling its body during the straight part. The direction of the wiggle indicates the direction to the food relative to the sun, and the duration of the wiggle tells the distance. For example, a short wiggle might mean "food close by," while a longer wiggle indicates "food further away." This dance allows bees to efficiently find and gather nectar and pollen, showcasing the incredible teamwork of these tiny creatures. Play our game to learn more!

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DNA puzzle

DNA is the material that carries information about how a living thing will look and function. In humans, it determines such things as what color the eyes are and how the lungs work. Each piece of information is carried on a different section of the DNA. These sections are called genes. There are four different bases in DNA: adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine. A binds T and G binds C. Try to find hidden words using this rule of nucleotide complementarity to match letters in the correct order.

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Interactive kahoots

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Comic Book

An entertaining comic book about Bees

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Public Events

Estonia-TUIT team dedicates a lot of time and effort to reach as many diverse communities as possible.

We travel around the world to participate at education fairs (Estonia, Latvia, UAE, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Vietnam, Japan), organize our own public engagement events (Researcher’s night, Science day at Ukraine Maja, and our team’s crown jewel - the annual Escape room and Art Exhibition).

We also take part in events organized by others (University of Tartu Open doors days in Tartu and Narva, science week at High school in Alatskivi, already traditional river and family days in Narva, Wisdom day in Tartu).

We organised:

SMTB 2023 (18.07-3.08.2023)

Workshop at Researcher’s Night in Tartu (29.09.2023)

Workshop at Ukraina Maja (30.09.2023)

Art Exhibition and Escape Room (4.10.2023)

We took part in:

University of Tartu Open Doors Day (1.03.2023)

Science week at Juhan Liivi School in Alatskivi (10.05.2023)

Narva University of Tartu Open Doors Day (25.04.2023)

River day in Narva (8.07.2023)

Family Day in Narva (26.08.2023)

Wisdom Day in Tartu (1.09.2023)


Riga Skola 2023 (3-5.03.2023)

Dubai (5.03.2023)

Baku BeginGroup (10.03.2023)

Tbilisi BeginGroup (11.03.2023)

Ho Chi Minh BeginGroup (2.04.2023)

Tokyo (24.06.2023)

Kyoto (25.06.2023)