The Tech’s award-winning Biotinkering Initiative explores the squishy intersection of biology, design, technology and making to create unique experiences that empower people of all ages and backgrounds to use biology as a creative and problem-solving medium.
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Behind the Biotinkering Lab
Our Unique Approach
We blend elements of traditional scientific inquiry with the engineering-focused practices of making, tinkering, and design challenge learning and apply them to biology! Our biotinkering activities aim to authentically engage young people with science as a personally relevant process by supporting learner agency, choice, and open-ended exploration.
Biotinkering Experience Goals
- Enable everyone to experiment, create, and problem solve using biology.
- Provide opportunities for direct engagement with novel lab tools, ideas, and organisms.
- Support curiosity-driven exploration and tinkering with biological systems.
- Foster confidence and STEM identity with a combination of fun and authentic science.
- Inspire and excite participants about the future possibilities of biotechnology.
Recognition and Honors
In 2019, the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) honored the Biotinkering Lab with the Roy. L Shafer Leading Edge Award for extraordinary accomplishments in Visitor Experience.
Science Education Partnership Award
Biology has become a powerful and revolutionary technology, uniquely poised to transform and propel innovation. In 2017, The Tech received a 5 year SEPA grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop and study a repertoire of novel biotinkering activities as a new way to inspire and equip young people from diverse backgrounds to participate in the dynamic landscape of modern biotechnology.
- Create and test biotinkering experiences that make biotech accessible to everyone
- Foster creativity capacity, problem-solving skills, and confidence with using biology
- Inspire and equip young people from diverse backgrounds to explore STEM careers
- Highlight biology as a modern problem-solving space
- Evaluate, document, and share our learnings and resources
Partnership with Stanford
The Tech has had a longstanding partnership with the Stanford Department of Genetics to connect graduate students, post docs, and staff directly with visitors. Multiple days a week, these scientist volunteers turn the Biotinkering Lab into the ChromoZONE and run in hands-on genetics programming of various kinds.