While I'm getting used to my new arrival the iGEM Team from Copenhagen have kindly provided a great guest post about their work over the summer. Further information about their project can be found on the Copenhagen iGEM team website.

iGEM Team Copenhagen: Paying it forward to future iGEM’ers with ‘Bricks of Knowledge’

Inspired by iGEM’s open sharing of knowledge via biobricks, we have created a ‘Bricks-of-Knowledge’ library of video-tutorials on ‘how-to-iGEM’ made and submitted by iGEM teams from all over the globe. With this, we want to empower all future iGEM-aspirants, especially from less resourceful countries, to become part of the great global iGEM student community – as well as give all future iGEM’ers a head-start.

Right now – and just like us - thousands of iGEM-students all over the globe have their heads filled with new knowledge and are gearing up for this year’s showdown of iGEM Regional Jamborees (iGEM Asia Jamboree has already happened) and for the World Championship at MIT.

Some of this knowledge is collected into new genetic ‘biobricks’ for the iGEM registry for everyone else to use.

But – as all teams have learned – iGEM is about so much more than biobricks. iGEM students face many new challenges: Setting up a group, choosing a project focus, finding funding not to mention doing challenging lab-work, outreach work and much more. It rather resembles a scientist/bioentrepreneur in spe bootcamp.

We want to ‘pay-it-forward’ to all future iGEM teams by giving access to some of this knowledge – especially to teams from less resourceful countries that do not have access to many supervisors or a large science-knowledge-base on synthetic biology.

For Students by Students: Making Everyone Smarter Faster

Therefore, as a part of our participation in this year’s iGEM competition, we have made a video-based platform to collect and freely share the essential know-how that future iGEM’ers will need. We have done this by inviting all iGEM teams to record and share their own “Brick of Knowledge” videos.

They are essentially ‘how-to-iGEM’ video tutorials featuring the essential components of every team’s iGEM experience: How to fundraise, how to use the iGEM registry, how to USER clone, how to create a soil library of microbial strains, and many more.

See how far we have come!

The goal is to create a structured and fun video mini-series - by iGEM students for iGEM students.

Our hope is that this will give future iGEM teams easy access to solve challenges that others already have faced, and leave them time to go even further with new and yet-unsolved challenges.

Keep the bricks coming! The Goal is official iGEM status

The library is already growing, but only at the start of its journey. There is so much knowledge out there. We encourage all iGEM’ers to let their experiences live on by building upon the variety of topics covered by the Bricks of Knowledge videos. Hopefully, this will encourage more students from less developed countries to participate in iGEM in the future.

Our dream is that, one day, submitting a ‘Brick of Knowledge’ will be part of the official iGEM competition.

Team Magneto: Our Own Experience

We are 11 undergraduate students from various departments within the University of Copenhagen, who spent the majority of our summer in the lab, where we met our share of challenges.

A short movie of our project can be seen on our website.

The object of our attention is magnetotactic bacteria and magnetosomes. We found these bacteria to be fussy eaters, ambivalent about growing and even about their own survival. Worst of all, they didn’t like oxygen one bit. However, other challenges also arose: we needed to raise our own funds, handle public relations, plan the project and get all 11 of us to work as a team.

As students, we had limited experience with many of these tasks – and we would have loved to have something like the Bricks of Knowledge on our hands when we started our project in the spring.

We believe that scientific knowledge by default should be openly accessible.

And hopefully, we have contributed to make it easier for teams to come. Perhaps Bricks of Knowledge can also contribute to making the workings of synthetic biology more transparent to the general public. By openly communicating what is actually done in and around the laboratories, the Bricks of Knowledge videos invite everybody not only to review the results but the process itself. Perhaps this is a new level of Open Access.

You are hereby invited to open up your knowledge too - and if you are an iGEM’er, we can’t wait to see your Brick of Knowledge!

And for all you European 2013 iGEM’ers: See you on Saturday in Lyon – we look forward to meeting, sharing and competing.

Good luck to all!

Team Magneto