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Award-winning Canyon Crest Academy IGEM students hold Biology Summer Camp

Biology camp
iGEM’s Annual Bioengineering Summer Camps, with two comprehensive levels, are now offered: Biology I and Biology 2. Courtesy

For members of Canyon Crest Academy International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM), one of the main goals for this year’s team consisted of not only building up research to degrade crude oil with genetically modified bacterium, but also to jump start the STEM education of young minds in the community. This has led to the continuation of iGEM’s Annual Bioengineering Summer Camps, with two comprehensive levels now offered: Biology I and Biology 2.

CCA’s iGEM team is comprised of 25 students with various interests and strengths, all bound by an understanding of biological laboratory work. Every year, these students participate in a science symposium in Boston, Mass., competing with hundreds of other high school, undergraduate college, and over-graduate teams. During the course of last year’s project, the team engineered E Coli bacteria to break down toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons into innocuous intermediates that can be used in the metabolic cycle of the cell. This completely student-lead project included funding laboratory work, organizing numerous community events, and providing comprehensive analysis of the results on a website developed from scratch in order to showcase to the international community. The team was nominated for four special awards and won two: best comprehensive biological parts collection and best explanatory science in poster section.

During the week of June 18 to June 22t, iGEM will be hosting its camps in the QUEST laboratories of Canyon Crest Academy, allowing students to gain hands on experience for valuable laboratory techniques. These two camps are available for students who will be in grades 5 through 8 in the fall, and serve as an immersive jumpstart in biology topics rarely even taught in the formal high school classroom. This camp hopes to inspire future scientists and to instill a passion for research science; the skills learned by the students in this camp will be valuable in any career, STEM and beyond. Prospective students can find more information and register for the camp at canyoncrestfoundation.org.

In the Biology 1 course, students will have the opportunity to explore a detailed overview of genetics, while delving into topics such as Mendelian genetics, punnett squares, pedigrees, genetic linkage, DNA translation and transcription, as well as types of inheritance. In addition, students will be educated in Earth Science and be able to practice laboratory techniques and labs such as pipetting, Transformation, centrifuge use, and compound microscope use.

As for Biology 2, students will be able to engage in lessons revolving around Microbiology, including topics such as microbial interactions and systems, staining, microbial uses in industry and agriculture, as well as gene editing and CRISPR techniques. They will also learn about Biological Research Science, Biochemistry, and Environmental Science, all while gaining valuable experience with laboratory techniques of Gel Electrophoresis, PCR, Transfection/Transformation, antibody staining, and cell culture practice.

Students presented their program on June 7 to the San Dieguito Union High School District board at its regularly scheduled meeting. A video of the presentation is available at bit.ly/2JCxHmN

The Canyon Crest Academy Foundation's mission is “enriching the experience of every student, every day.” The Canyon Crest Academy Foundation is a parent-led 501(c)(3) organization providing opportunities across academics, athletics and the arts, and creating an environment where students can thrive. Visit www.canyoncrestfoundation.org.

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