miniPCR, MƒA Launch Genes in Space Competition for Students Nationwide

Winning team will have DNA experiments performed aboard the International Space Station

Cambridge, MA (March 19, 2015) — Today, miniPCR and Math for America (MƒA) announced Genes in Space, an innovation challenge that invites teachers and students in grades 7 through 12 across the nation to design a pioneering DNA experiment for space. Participants are tasked with creating experiments that can solve real-life space exploration problems through DNA analysis, and the winning experiment will be performed aboard the International Space Station using a miniPCR machine. Genes in Space aligns with miniPCR’™s and MƒA’s commitment to fostering creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking among young innovators bridging the biological and physical sciences.

Students can submit their proposals alone or in groups of up to four, with the aid of an adult mentor (teacher, parent, or guardian). Five finalist teams will receive mentoring from world-class R&D scientists that will help refine their experimental ideas and make them feasible for space. Finalists will also receive a donation of miniPCR equipment for their educational institutions.

Members of the finalist teams will be invited to gather in Boston, MA, in July 2015 to present their proposals at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference. There, a prestigious panel of scientists, educators, and technologists will judge the entries and select a winner. The panel of judges will include Marianne Prabhu, MƒA Master Teacher, Elinor Karlsson, Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Gary Ruvkun, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, Daniel MacArthur, Assistant Professor at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Ezequiel (Zeke) Alvarez Saavedra, co-founder at miniPCR.

The national winner will be announced at the 2015 ISS R&D Conference, and later will have their experiment performed 250 miles above the Earth aboard the International Space Station. Members of the winning team will also be invited to witness the spaceship launch.

“I can’t imagine anything more perfect than this fantastic mix of science: DNA analysis, the space station, and out-of-the-box thinking from secondary students! This is what makes science both real and exciting. We are thrilled to lend a hand to this amazing competition,” said John Ewing, MƒA President.

“Through Genes in Space, middle and high school students will stand shoulder to shoulder with the first generation of space molecular biologists. These young innovators will open up a new era of DNA exploration in space; this kind of adventure is why we created miniPCR,” said Sebastian Kraves, Co-Founder of miniPCR.

Genes in Space rewards innovation, the ability to formulate scientific hypotheses bridging biology and physics, and the creation of sound experimental designs. This challenge invites participants to propose pioneering DNA amplification experiments using the unique environment of the International Space Station. DNA amplification has never been conducted in space before, and the winning proposal from Genes in Space will become one of the first DNA amplification experiments ever to be done outside of the Earth.

To download the complete press release, click here

miniPCR will be analyzing DNA aboard the International Space Station!
miniPCR will be analyzing DNA aboard the International Space Station!

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