MIT Final Assembly: BioBuilder Club

Crosstown High participated in the Final Assembly at MIT with our BioBuilder Club. This club engages high school teams around the world who combine engineering approaches and scientific know-how to design/build/test their own project ideas using synthetic biology. The kickoff meeting in October held monthly online group meetings, and provided a nationally recognized platform in March to exhibit projects at any stage of completion, from pitch to prototype. Teams received the BioBuilder textbook, a kit of laboratory reagents, and support from remote scientist mentors. At the Final Assembly, teams were celebrated as they presented their projects through e-posters, sharing their journey of discovery as part of BioBuilderClub. Projects ranged from a plastic degradation system to a self-sustaining biological desktop lamp to a strategy for growing food in space.

Crosstown High’s Project was entitled “Glow in the Dark Arsenic Eating Bacteria.” The purpose was to create a bacterium (altered HB101) that will detect and metabolise arsenic in a biofilter. The new organism would glow in the dark with GFP expression and will break down arsenic into a nontoxic substance. This is especially useful to help mitigate arsenic (located in the clay layer above our aquifer that resulted from buried coal ash ponds) from potentially contaminating the aquifer from which Memphis derives its drinking water. The students that worked on this project were: Trey Smith, Damain Brown, Megan Flowers, Deonna Hankins, Jarren Burse, Aniya Tucker, and Lydia Grace (Narrator). Their mentor was Nikki Wallace (Biology Teacher).

Want to check out more BioBuilder projects? Visit to learn more!

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