BioBuilder: bringing cutting-edge science into schools

Last week we had an inspiring conversation with Natalie Kuldell, founder of BioBuilder. Natalie teaches at the Biological Engineering Department of MIT, where she ensures the next generation of bio engineers will be engaged, energized, and avid problem-solvers — and not followers of “cookbook science protocols”. Seems like an easy task for her – a few seconds into conversation with Natalie you’ll be infused with the same passion.

Natalie started the Biobuilder Educational Foundation to help bring this energy and curiosity into every biology classroom, and to expand the possibilities for teaching in STEM fields. An amazing mission with a really creative vehicle. By converting cutting-edge science and engineering into teachable modules, BioBuilder creates an engaged community around STEM disciplines and promotes broader understanding of these fields.

The current focus is a boon to us biology-minded folks. The foundation puts current synthetic biology research directly into the hands of teachers and students. In essence, BioBuilder empowers everyone in every school to experiment at the cutting edge of biology. It is super fun too. The teaching modules in the BioBuilder curriculum range from designing bacterial circuits that will capture images, to optimizing genetic networks that will make bacteria smell like bananas.

As a technology-centric team looking to enable biology education, this is as inspiring as it gets for us. And yes, we’re a little bit jealous of the students who get access to synthetic biology experimentation and discussion (potentially, every student in the country thanks to BioBuilder’s rapid expansion).

Just a few days ago we were writing about breathing fresh air into the biology classroom. Little did we know it might carry the scent of synthetic bananas…