Kyle, James and David of Otyp have designed a kit for teaching kids the biological equivalent of writing “Hello, world” and they’d like to share with more kids in the classroom. With this kit, kids start with the gene from a jellyfish that makes it glow green and they insert it into bacteria. They grow a colony of fluorescent bacteria. Kids can learn about some of the fundamental processes behind biotechnology and they can also have fun, using the bacteria to paint an image that glows in the dark. I met the Otyp team at Maker Faire Detroit where they were demonstrating the process. Kyle made a pretty cool poster from the photos of the various creations people made during Maker Faire.
The team at Otyp would like to share this kit with public schools around the country — for free. They’ve set up the Speak Science fund and they’re using Kickstarter to raise money to build these kits. Please consider supporting this project and helping them get these kits into the hands of more kids. The goal is to get kids doing science — not just reading about it.
In an Xconomy article on Maker Faire Detroit, James said that he was “appalled by the tremendous low quality of exposure to real science that high schoolers were getting.” He wanted to do something about that from a DIY perspective. The Otype team is working on these kits and an inexpensive PCR machine for the experiments.
Kids don’t get to see how biologists invent and discover using DNA until they take advanced biology courses at the university level; students who don’t want to commit to becoming biologists never get to experience how exciting the science can be, and for that reason, most students are never taught how biotechnology works at all.
This is just one example of what needs to be done to create hands-on science and technology programs in our schools — and we need hundreds more. Please consider supporting Otyp and the mission on making science come alive for kids. There’s even a way to target your donation so that a school of your choice can get the kids.