The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition took place in December in Boston, USA. Having worked with the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS), the team from Kent proudly walked away with a Silver Medal and awards for “best mathematical model” and “best education and public engagement”. They were also nominated for “best wiki”.
Originally an intercollegiate competition at MIT in 2004, iGEM has since expanded to reach students at various stages of their academic career. Centred around synthetic biology, each year students go to the event to present the project they’ve undertaken. The Judd School’s pupils educated their younger peers about DNA and synthetic biology, organised involvement across the student body to attend the March for Science protest in Westminster, London and undertook extensive research to identify anaemia as an area they could explore.
Ultimately, their research resulted in the project IonIron, which aims to genetically engineer E. coli to detect iron concentrations in saliva as a biological sensor for iron deficiency and overdose. Students were commended for their community engagement, which involved contacting other schools via IRIS. Having discovered their nominations and invite to iGEM, the students also rallied support and fundraising to get the team to the Giant Jamboree in Boston.
“We were advised that the team probably wouldn’t win anything as it was our first time attending, so we were completely blown away to have won the Silver Medal.’
Steve Greenwood, director of operations at IRIS said: “Judd did incredibly well, competing against over 40 high school teams from around the world. What is particularly impressive is the fact they were judged by the same criteria as hundreds of university teams and walked away with fantastic recognition for their efforts. A great result for their first time going!”
A teacher from the Judd School also commented, saying: “We were advised that the team probably wouldn’t win anything as it was our first time attending, so we were completely blown away to have won the Silver Medal and awards for “best mathematical model” and “best education and public engagement” categories.
“Of course, the students worked incredibly hard, so we always saw them as winners, but it’s even better for them to have received international recognition! IRIS was instrumental to helping us connect with other schools, so we’re also thankful for the support they gave in our students’ competition entry.”
For more information, please visit https://www.researchinschools.org/.