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Summer 2016 Building with Biology Events and Conversations

We will be sending out 200 free physical kits to informal science education and research institutions in the summer of 2016 to host a Building with Biology Event. Although the primary aim of this project is to create conversations between scientists and the public at science centers, all of the hands-on activities, forums, and materials produced as part of the project has been made available as a digital kit online and is free to download. 

Pilot Summer 2015 Building with Biology Event at Museum of Science, Boston

How to participate in a Building with Biology event

Scientists and members of the synthetic biology community:  We welcome graduate students, professors, scientists, industry professionals and members of the synthetic biology community (and related fields) to participate in a Building with Biology event in your local community. Please submit your interest here and we’ll help to connect you with science centers/museums near you selected to receive a kit and host a Summer 2016 Building with Biology Event.

As a scientist participant, you will:

  • Benefit from hearing public perspectives directly from the public participants and have the opportunity to share your own research and perspectives with the public.
  • Get an opportunity to use science communication techniques by engaging with public participants through hands-on activities and conversations in public forums about synthetic biology.
  • Have the opportunity for professional development through participation in online training in science communication and public engagement provided by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).


  • The purpose of the Building with Biology project is to create conversations in museums among scientists and public audiences about the emerging field of synthetic biology and societal implications.
  • Synthetic biology uses new techniques combining biology and engineering to make new or modified living things and materials. The field is exploring where biology-based products might provide solutions to a wide diversity of problems in health, energy, and the environment.

Building with Biology kit

Two-hundred (200) free physical kits will be awarded to successful applicants to be used in summer 2016 Building with Biology events and conversations nationwide. View our Kit Contents page for more details.

Building with Biology kits will include: 

Educational Resources

  • Six hands-on activities
    • The activities are designed to promote conversations between the public and scientists about the social and ethical considerations of synthetic biology
    • Activities investigate how synthetic biology is interconnected with society, introduce some of the tools scientists use, and explore the applications of synthetic biology in health, food, energy, and the environment
    • Activities will not require special lab facilitites or equipment
  • One forum
    • This longer forum is designed as a facilitated group experience between members of the public and scientists
    • The forum is about biologically engineered mosquitos to combat malaria
  • Educational event posters and multimedia
    • These materials are designed to help set the context of the event and provide some background information to the public

Professional Resources

  • Facilitator guides for activities and conversations
  • Guide for hosting a forum
  • Training videos for all activities and the forum
  • Tips and resources about public engagement with science (PES)
  • Support for scientist facilitator recruitment and participation
  • Orientation presentation for staff and volunteers, including a project overview, an introduction to synthetic biology, and an introduction to public engagement with science

Target Audience

  • The activities are designed for family audiences, including children, and work particularly well for ages 8 and up
  • The forum is designed for audiences age 16 and up

The activities, forum, and professional resources are based on prototypes from pilot events and have been revised to incorporate feedback collected though the event evaluation and feedback.

Building with Biology digital kit

In addition to the physical kits, digital versions of the educational and professionals materials are available online for free download at

Consider this option if you are affiliated with an organization that does not hold public events, would like to preview the contents, are located outside the United States, or want to create multiple copies of print resources. 

How to apply for a Building with Biology kit (for iGEM teams)

The application process has now closed - applications were due April 18, 2016

  • Project Overview includes application instructions and eligibility: PDF and Word version
  • Online SurveyGizmo application (must be filled out online)
    • PDF and Word version of online application (for reference; blank)

How to apply for a Building with Biology kit (for museums)

The application process has now closed - applications were due February 1, 2016

  • Project Overview includes application instructions and eligibility: PDF and Word versions
  • Online SurveyGizmo application (documents are for reference; application must be filled out and submitted online): 
    • Word version of online application (Word DOCX format) or (Word DOC format)
    • PDF version of online applicaiton


  • Mid-November, 2015: Application opens online to apply for a free Building with Biology physical kit
  • April 18, 2016: Deadline for iGEM teams to submit an application for a physical kit (please note that February 1, 2016 was the earlier deadline for museums to apply for a kit)
  • May 2016: Notification of award decisions for iGEM teams
  • May 31, 2016: Deadline to submit Forum Stipend Application (learn more)
  • June 2016: Kits delivered to successful applicants
  • Mid-June – September, 2016: Host a Building with Biology event (hosting a forum is an additional opportunity)
  • Three weeks after hosting event: Reports due online

Learn more