On the 22nd of January the Monash Tech School attended a workshop at BioQuisitive, an open community laboratory in Brunswick East. The workshop revolved around green fluorescent protein, commonly abbreviated to ‘GFP’.
The laboratory offers an environment where trained professionals and members of the public can explore the field of biotechnology. Community laboratories such as BioQuisitive help to break down the barriers to science, allowing more people to become involved in scientific research and exploration without needing university degrees or specific jobs.
Members of BioQuisitive can learn about biology and life sciences while building practical skills through workshops, classes and projects, such as the GFP workshop we attended. This began with a tour of the BioQuisitive site by Director Andrew Gray. The facility has Makerspaces and a fully functional laboratory available, allowing members to work with a range of advanced equipment and technologies.
Following the tour, we were introduced to the term ‘biohacking’, which means to upgrade living beings through biological alteration. Andrew Gray described how it has been used in maker communities around the world, with such results as making bacteria glow. We were then given an opportunity to try ‘biohacking’ for ourselves, participating in an experiment wherein DNA that encodes for the GFP in jellyfish was fused with the bacteria E, coli, allowing the bacteria to glow.
This visit to BioQuisitive was a great opportunity for the Monash Tech School staff to practise their laboratory skills, We are excited by the possibilities of laboratories such as BioQuisitive, and look forward to continuing our work with the wider community to engage them in STEM education.