Behind the BioTinkering Lab

Our Unique Approach


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.

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.

Inside Our Development Process

Peek behind the lab door to learn about the science, activity design, prototyping, and more! 

Blog Posts:

Collaborations and Community Projects

We work to support, partner, and co-create with our community, both in and outside of The Tech!

Blog Posts:

Project Websites:

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.

Watch Video   

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.

Project Aims

  • 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

Project Outcomes

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.

This work was made possible by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).