Lethbridge High-School iGEM – using synthetic biology and genetic engineer to help solve local and global problems


Lethbridge High-School iGEM, Lethbridge, AB

Building a solar-powered robot that targets knapweed with an RNA herbicide (tech focus: robotics & synthetic biology)

Team Grade Level: 10-12
Team Experience Level: Beginner
STEM Focus: Synthetic Biology


Group of awesome high school students from Lethbridge, Alberta working together to create an innovative synthetic biology project.

Where are you at with your project and prototyping?

We are currently in the planning phase of our project. Since our herbicide for knapweed may have side effects, we are figuring out the details so no complications occur. Further research is required to avoid this.

What challenges do you have?

Firstly, we have encountered limitations due to COVID-19. Many safety concerns arise from in-person gatherings. For example, we are planning on participating in a highway cleanup to earn money for our project. However, due to an immense increase in COVID cases and variant cases now targeting youth, there might not be many people that can make it. Funding opportunities would normally require in-person attendance so we must be improvising constantly. These challenges will further extend to in-lab work.

In terms of our project, we are aiming to reduce the population of an invasive species, spotted knapweed. Because this plant is so abundant, eliminating it could lead to environmental disruptions. Additionally, there may be existing insect controls which will cause interference with knapweed. We will need to find DNA that is specifically only present in knapweed and not in other species within the region. This must be done at high precision so there is no intervention with the environment.

For the outline of our product, we are planning on creating a mobile herbicide spraying device. We have discussed creating this in the form of a robot. However, this could also lead to damaging other plants and wildlife. Since the movement of the robot may cause issues, we have also entertained the idea of a drone. As of right now, how our product will look is not officially established and is a challenge we are working on.

In the future, some obstacles to keep in mind include safety in the lab and ethics in experimentations.

How could the mentors assist you?

We are currently contacting possible mentors to assist our team. These mentors could provide feedback towards our project while considering our ideas. They could help lead us into the right direction, especially with the concern of the herbicide being safe or not.


Posted on

June 16, 2022

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