Biotinkering Community of Practice


Despite the rapidly advancing landscape of modern biology, the majority of experiences that K-12 learners have with biology are still rooted in traditional procedural and prescriptive approaches. There is a critical need to engage students in a more 21st century approach to biology – one that emphasizes open-ended exploration and creativity as key elements of scientific practice.

Over the last five years as part of our previous SEPA award, we have developed an award-winning approach to informal biology education, biotinkering, that authentically engages young people with science as a personally relevant and creative process by supporting learner agency and choice. Our proposed project, Adapting and Scaling the Biotinkering Approach through a Community of Practice (CoP) Model, aims to empower other informal science institutions to participate in and co-author the future of biotinkering with us. To be thoughtful about ensuring that our burgeoning approach can meaningfully contribute to bringing more diverse perspectives into STEM fields, our proposed CoP centers community and co-design.

We have established commitments (subawards) with three diverse informal learning sites: the Amazeum (AR), New York Hall of Science (NY), and Missoula Public Library (MT). Community relationships at each participating site, including The Tech Interactive (CA), will be integrated throughout the project to help build a foundation for biotinkering that is more inclusive and culturally relevant, especially for marginalized communities. This approach can generate the types of informal learning experiences society needs to serve as inspirational entry points for a more diverse next generation of biotech and biomedical innovators.

Overall Project Aims

  • Establish a thriving Biotinkering Community of Practice to support diverse practitioners in gaining confidence with doing biotinkering in their own contexts.
  • Develop culturally relevant biotinkering activities, co-designed with local communities, to generate a more diverse repertoire of experiences for varied audiences and environments.  
  • Identify strategies and promising practices that can be used by practitioners to adopt biotinkering as an inclusive approach that centers community voices.

Biotinkering Community of Practice

The Biotinkering Community of Practice is in the early stages of development. Check back soon for updates!  

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Behind the BioTinkering Lab

Curious about getting started with biotinkering? Browse the resources we have created and learn more about why and how we research, design, and develop these cool experiences!

Behind the BioTinkering Lab

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).