5 Biotechnology-related Science Fair Ideas
Biotechnology is an advanced yet accessible topic that can lead to success in science fair competitions. Students and teens that have learned biotechnology using Amino Labs' ecosystem and then done a biotechnology-related science fair project have earned more than $100,000 in scholarships! Because biotechnology is seen as quite advanced, few teens will do biotechnology-based projects. What a great way to be set apart from the crowd!
Biotechnology is also a very multi-disciplinary subject. In the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero journey, students learn the core skills of biotechnology innovation: growing and culturing cells, engineering cells, understanding enzymes, and using genetic circuits. With an understanding of basic biotechnology skills, they are now ready to explore the many disciplines that interface with biotechnology: robotics, electrical engineering, software engineering, artificial intelligence, product design, material science, sustainability, and more. With so many areas to choose from, students can explore science fair project ideas they can feel proud of.
Since all medal-worthy science fair projects have depth, science fair participants must demonstrate a good understanding of their subject and the ability to innovate. For this reason, when your teen/student enters a science fair and wants to do well, it will require preparation, focus, perseverance, and ingenuity. There are rarely any shortcuts to success: success is generally a function of time invested. Thankfully, while the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to master a subject can be accurate, your teen can gain their biotechnology basics in less than 50 hours! Is your student/teen interested in doing a biotechnology-related science fair project? In that case, we recommend they gain their foundation in the subject by completing the Zero to Hero Journey (Z2H). Divided into the beginner's journey and the advanced journey, once completed, your student/teen will have a foundation to ideate and execute a highly competitive science fair project.
Below are 5 biotechnology-related science fair ideas your teen may want to explore with their freshly acquired biotechnology core skills:
1. Modeling and engineering your own protein:
As you'll see in the Z2H journey, proteins are a critical type of macro-molecule created by living organisms, and proteins are the "work horses" of cells. Throughout the Z2H journey, Heroes will learn about many different kinds of proteins with different functions. Becoming familiar with some of the proteins that cells make will enable your student/teen to seek out other remarkable proteins that they may want to investigate and even modify. Molecular modeling is a tool learned in the Z2H journey that enables one to use software to look at and modify known proteins. Those modified proteins can then be created and investigated in real cells using the hands-on skills learned in the Z2H journey.
2. Bio-manufacturing of your own molecules
As you'll see in the Z2H journey, bio-manufacturing is an essential industry that supplies the world with medicine, food, industrial products, cosmetics, and much more. Biology is an indispensable manufacturing platform! Throughout the Z2H journey, heroes will engineer cells to create many different things, from proteins to sustainable chemicals. The idea of using biology for manufacturing different things will become second nature. By the end of the Z2H journey, your student/teen will have a foundation to start exploring other things that could be bio-manufactured. This could be a fantastic science fair project and overlap with high-interest areas like medicine, climate change, sustainability, material science, and agriculture.
3. Creating your own genetic circuit to make a sensor
As you'll see in the Z2H journey, genetics is much like programming and electrical circuits. DNA can be designed to turn on under certain conditions and turn off under others. There are many reasons for wanting to do this, many of which are unveiled in the Z2H journey. One innovative area where genetic circuits are used is to create a biosensor. When a genetic circuit is designed to turn on only in the presence of an environmental cue, it turns the organism into a sensor! Many young people are already exploring this exciting field, from looking at biosensors for environmental and human health sensing to food safety.
4. Creating a robotic or electronic system to help with biotechnology efforts
As you'll see in the Z2H journey, some lab equipment is needed to help undertake biotechnology activities. As your student/teen goes through the journey, they may think of ideas to make doing science experiments easier, more repeatable, or more fun. Creating and using a robotic system using robotics kits and platforms like Lego Mindstorms can be an innovative way to prototype a helpful tool for science experimentation.
In addition to robotic systems that can help with biotechnology efforts, electronic systems with sensors, actuators, and timers can be explored to make time in a science lab more efficient and fun. For example, Arduino, Raspberry pi, and Little Bits can be used to create innovative technology for biotechnology labs.
5. Creating and applying an artificial intelligence system to a biotechnology problem
Artificial intelligence involves training neural nets to provide solutions to a particular problem. Nowadays, neural net technology can be leveraged by novice programmers to detect something visually. Some biotechnology activities can be tedious and difficult for humans because they are repetitive and require concentration for extended periods. Excitingly, AI is now being programmed to undertake some of these strenuous tasks, which allows scientists to focus their brain power on innovation and problem-solving!
After undertaking the Z2H journey, your teen/student will be able to identify some of the more mundane biotechnology tasks that could potentially be done using AI. Then, with machine learning kits or Google's open machine learning platform, your teen/student will be on their way to applying AI to biotechnology!
As you can see from these science fair topics, there are many opportunities to create a world-leading science fair project your teen will enjoy. While some of the above ideas might sound difficult at first, rest assured that a fundamental understanding of biotechnology can be achieved through the Z2H journey. The Z2H journey is designed for beginners and was developed with the direct input of two science fair-loving 12-years olds. Hundreds of middle and high school educators and hundreds of parent-teen teams have completed the Z2H journey. You can do it too!
You'll have noticed from this blog article that your student/teen can learn many skills and fundamental knowledge. These will not only set your student/teen apart in science fair competitions but also from others when applying to college or university. So, start early and help your student/teen build a strong portfolio of unique skills that will make them stand out.