Jordan is an A level student from King Edward VII School here in Sheffield and recently took part in the Genetic Engineering Workshop held by iGem Sheffield and the Excellence Hub. She has written about her experience and why she wanted to take part in the day.
‘As a student studying A level Chemistry and Biology that wants to go to university in the near future I was excited to visit Sheffield University and get the chance to speak to students that are currently studying courses that I’m interested in and gain a better understanding of university life.
We were first introduced to iGEM by members of Sheffield University’s 2016 team, Iron and Blood, who were very welcoming and enthusiastic. At first I felt very overwhelmed with the realisation of their ability to formulate a new idea and then literally bring it to life to create something new. This was something I previously thought was only possible for really experienced scientists with PhDs and at least 40 years of experience! It was great to see how much you can achieve with the right drive and motivation.
We also had the chance to learn more about the first developments in medicine and do some practical activities with an interactive timeline and samples under microscopes. I was particularly interested to find out the influence my home town had on the worldwide accessibility to Penicillin.
After having some time to look at posters produced by previous iGEM entrants it was our chance to create an idea.
At first I wasn’t feeling too confident about creating a new and useful device so after brainstorming with our new team it was valuable to have a member of the iGEM team to work with. They were very supportive with helping to develop our ideas and in particular making sure it was scientifically possible! They also managed to simplify much of the science so we could understand some of the more complex components of our product.
As a team we created a poster outlining the demand for our product and explaining how it would work then we went up on stage to present the idea to the judges and the other groups. After, the floor was open to questions which was quite a challenge since we’d only had a couple of hours to formulate our idea and weren’t familiar with all aspects of the product.
My favourite bit of the day was working in groups of students from schools around Yorkshire to create our own iGEM inspired project. It was great to meet new people and work on the project together because it meant we had a range of talents to work with and we all made friends in the process.
We were competing against other groups for best presentation, best poster and best idea. Unfortunately our team didn’t win, but it was good to see how every single group had come up with such unique and interesting ideas.
Overall, I really enjoyed the day and it was particularly useful to have to day organised by students rather than professors.
It was a great opportunity to find out that university life can be more than just lectures and studying! I will definitely be looking out for more events hosted by Excellence Hub and I would love to participate in the real iGEM competition in the future!’
More information about iGem Sheffield who organised the event can be found on their website – click here