BioCraft - Algae-based balloons

Set

Are you crafty? Do you have an interest in biology? If so, then we have some wonderful activities for you to consider. The first (of hopefully many) BioCraft Workshops at SoundBio Lab was held this past weekend - to the great enjoyment and amusement of our attendees. The inspiration for this creative workshop started when one of our co-founders stumbled upon the Balloon-less Water Balloon Kickstarter project. He decided to back the activity and in return, received a kit. The Kickstarter project was well supported, with 250 donors, and almost $10,000 worth of funding. Clearly they were onto something cool and fun!

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Led by Dr. Orlando de Lange, we spent an hour creating water balloons made from seaweed. The key ingredients behind this fun activity are sodium alginate (a polysaccharide in seaweed that supports cell walls) and calcium lactate. When you place a spoonful of sodium alginate into a calcium lactate bath, this causes it to create a spherical shape with an outer, gel-like membrane. The membrane forms because the calcium atoms from the bath, displace the sodium atoms from the sodium alginate. The bio-balloons do ‘pop’, and are a ton of fun to play with. They are also non-toxic, and biodegradable.

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It turns out, the process to make these gelatinous balls is a well-kept culinary secret called Spherification, used by a number of innovative chefs around the world.

This chemical process has also drawn interest by environmentalists, who are actively looking for alternatives to plastic bottles.

Have an idea for another BioCraft activity? Please reach out to us info (at) sound.bio - we want to hear from you!

SoundBio travels to Washington, DC

One of our founding board members, Dr. Herbert Sauro, was asked to speak about K-12 Educational Outreach initiatives at the IMAG Conference this March in Washington, DC. Many governmental granting agencies were present, hoping to learn more about how their federal dollars can best support our next generation of scientists.

An excerpt from Dr. Sauro, a professor at the University of Washington Dept. of BioEngineering:

“In this talk, I will describe two educational activities I have been involved in: one at the K-12 level and a second at the undergraduate junior level. I have been on the board for a number of years of a biomaker space in Seattle, called SoundBio Lab. This is a group of enthusiasts who have put together a fairly extensive molecular biology wet lab that can be used by laypeople and other interested groups such as the Seattle iGEM High School team. SoundBio also goes out to elementary and middle schools, as well as other locations, to organize after-school science activities. In addition, SoundBio has Saturday science events for anyone who wants to attend. The initial development of SoundBio was supported by outreach components from the National Science Foundation. Last year we organized a ‘Be a Scientist for a Day' game event for middle-school girls and under-represented minorities. This involved hands-on DNA fruit extraction, a novel cancer discovery game, and micropipetting practice. We will also be introducing a new event this year based around the theme of oscillators which will involve hands-on activities and modeling exercises. In the second part of the talk, I will briefly discuss a model game I have devised and use in my undergraduate systems biology modeling class.”

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We are grateful for Dr. Sauro’s continued collaboration with Sound Bio and his efforts towards advancing the goals of our educational outreach program.


2019 Lab Reorganization

The new year has brought a number of changes including a full reorganization of our lab space. You might even say that we were ‘Marie Kondo-ed’, in that almost every nook and cranny was cleared out, reassessed, and reorganized. Functional spaces are more clearly defined and equipment is easier to reach. Navigation has also improved with fewer ‘dead-ends’ via a new bench layout. Consumables such as gloves & tips are situated in the middle which allows greater accessibility for everyone.

This effort was largely driven by the fact that we are currently supporting more workshops in the lab and needed a larger workspace in the middle that is available from all sides. Thus the 2 benches in the photo below picture are now prioritized for workshops while research projects, lead projects and group projects have priority for the benches on the left.

New central bench assists various lab workshops.

New central bench assists various lab workshops.

Our Opentrons is up and running with dedicated bench space.

Our Opentrons is up and running with dedicated bench space.

All commonly used reagents, instruments and equipment are now in the main lab space, clearly labelled and displayed. Storage bins are labelled as well. It’s worth noting that the storage room is now off-limits to members; it is reserved for staff and volunteers only.

We have a separate space in the front for jackets and bags when hosting larger groups. There is also a new community notice board so please refer to it for the latest news.

Easier access to equipment.

Easier access to equipment.

Old equipment is being sold off (good-bye Frosty the Freezer!), which will create more usable storage space in the near future.

We hope you enjoy the new set-up! If you have trouble finding something because it has moved, please don’t hesitate to ask our lab manager.

We’d like to give a shout out to Dr. Orlando de Lange for sharing his laboratory organizational skills. We think Marie Kondo would agree that our lab sparks a lot of joy!

Member Spotlight: Theo Sauro

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At 9 years old, Theo is our youngest Tinkerer member at SoundBio. He happens to love all things science and because both of his parents are heavily involved in the SoundBio community, it’s no surprise that Theo participates in a wide variety of events. He also assists with testing new activities to determine the engagement factor for other Junior Scientists.

When in the lab Theo learned about the importance of safety, and was always under direct supervision of one of his parents (both trained scientists). Here are a few fun activities Theo has participated in:

  • Private lab tour, ending in fruit DNA extraction

  • Micro-pippetting

  • Dogfish shark dissection workshop

  • Candy electrophoresis workshop

  • With help from his father, he took some great pictures of protozoa using SoundBio’s new Compound Microscope

  • Theo attended our Sign-Making Party for Seattle’s Science March and was featured in a Crosscut article about the event.

Theo with his brother Ty, and father, Dr. Herbert Sauro, getting ready to dissect a frog.

Theo with his brother Ty, and father, Dr. Herbert Sauro, getting ready to dissect a frog.

When we asked The'o’s mother about SoundBio’s impact on Theo, she said:

“SoundBio offers an extraordinary opportunity for hands-on science exposure in a safe and supportive environment. There is simply nothing else like it in the greater Seattle region. Because Theo is young we can only postulate how these experiences might impact his future. However, it’s clear that his love of science has grown. I’ve heard Theo reference the shark dissection workshop several times since participating and he asked for a frog dissection kit for Christmas. I’m quite certain that request would not have materialized without SoundBio. When he grows up Theo says he wants to ‘make products from plants - things like food, medicine and oil; all from plants’, so we may need to get him involved in SoundBio’s plant TOP project soon!'“

After speaking with Theo about his favorite workshop, he said:

I didn’t even know you could dissect an animal!
It was fun to see all the organs inside a shark.
— Theo Sauro

Dissections at the Lab

While a lot of the research at SoundBio Lab focuses on molecular work, we still encourage and support other scientific activities as well, including dissections. It’s a great way to learn anatomy, while having fun and (quite literally), getting your hands dirty! In the past, we hosted a very popular dogfish shark dissection. The sharks were procured from Bio Corporation.

Theo, Ty and Dr. Herbert Sauro prepare to dissect a frog purchased from Carolina Biological Supply company.

Theo, Ty and Dr. Herbert Sauro prepare to dissect a frog purchased from Carolina Biological Supply company.

We have a wide variety of members in our lab, including families who either home school their children, or simply like to encourage fun science activities. SoundBio offers a safe space and supplies (ex: scalpels, forceps, scissors, fine tweezers, trays, etc) to perform kid-friendly activities like dissections.

This is exactly what Theo Sauro did after receiving a frog from Santa. He brought his entire family to the lab, so they could assist in his dissection. Of course, Theo and his younger brother Ty were supervised by their parents, and wore gloves and safety glasses. Here are a few images they shared while learning about frog organs. Ty was most enamored with the intestines, as they reminded him of spaghetti (of course).

SoundBio is here to encourage these types of hands-on activities, with experts ready to assist in the discovery process. We can also help procure specimens too. Contact us at: info (at) sound.bio to learn more!

New Workshops for 2019

SoundBio Lab is excited to announce an entire suite of new workshops for 2019!

Here’s a snapshot of what’s to come…

HANDS ON LAB ENCOUNTER

Designed for beginners, this 1 hour lab tour will introduce you to some basic equipment & how to use it safely. You also get to play around with a few simple items such as pipets, microscopes and centrifuges. Several dates and times are offered, starting in late January. Join us!

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LAB 101 SERIES

Back by popular demand! Designed for curious beginners, Dr. de Lange will walk you through some basic laboratory skills so you can safely and confidently get your feet wet. It’s the best way to start if you’ve never worked in a lab. 2 series will be offered in Feb, and 1 in March.

GMO - PCR

For those already familiar with pipetting and lab safety, this workshop introduces participants to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Using PCR, you’ll detect DNA that has been introduced into plants, examining this inside an agarose gel under UV light. We’ll also discuss the controversy surrounding GMOs in the food supply. This 3.5 hour workshop will be offered at 3 different time slots in mid to late March.

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Dr. Orlando de Lange is part of the  Klavin’s lab at UW , and is an active member of SoundBio Lab.

Dr. Orlando de Lange is part of the Klavin’s lab at UW, and is an active member of SoundBio Lab.

Remember, if you are a SoundBio member, you get a significant discount on Workshops. Member and non-Member pricing is listed on the Workshop page which will be updated regularly.

Given that space is limited, we kindly request that all participants RSVP ahead of time. This allows our workshop leader, Dr. Orlando de Lange to prepare. If you haven’t met Orlando yet, please introduce yourself! He’s busy leading our TOP project, so is oftentimes found at SoundBio Lab.

SPS Science Curriculum Adoption Team selects Finalists

Further updates to report from the Science Curriculum Adoption Team for Seattle Public Schools.

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As reported in a previous blog post, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has committed to updating all of their science curriculum over the next few years. They are beginning with K-8, and will tackle high school next. This is a big step and commitment by the district because SPS serves over 54,000 children. There are many reasons why this is happening, but the 2013 Washington mandate to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is the primary reason.

The adoption team has met many times at the John Stanford Center Center for Educational Excellence to first create the assessment rubric, and then to review all vendors who responded to the Request for Information from the Department of Instructional Materials. Teams were divided into K-5 or 6-8, depending on their area of expertise, and were comprised of teachers, principals and community members. SoundBio’s Dir. of Outreach, Holly Sawyer, is part of the K-5 group.

The teams met and scored the curriculum packages based on their detailed assessment rubric. In addition, a public survey was offered to all SPS parents, asking about their concerns and priorities for science. Not surprisingly, hands-on learning (a cornerstone of SoundBio Lab), came in as the number one goal. Parents are also concerned about too much screen/computer time at school, and want more hands-on activities to stimulate curious minds.

Taking into account all of the above, 3 vendors have been chosen as our finalists. These finalists have just moved forward to field testing, at both K-5 and 6-8 schools, where they will be used in the classroom. A variety of schools across the district are represented to cover the diverse student body served by SPS. Once the testing is complete, a thorough analysis will be performed before the winners are selected. They will then be formally recommended to the Seattle School Board. Stay tuned as we follow this exciting new development in science learning!


Interview with Dr. Sleight, Founder & CEO of Sleight Beer Lab

We sat down with Dr. Sleight, founder and CEO of Sleight Beer Lab to learn about his new business and the role that SoundBio has played in it.

Can you tell us a little about your background and why you decided to become an entrepreneur?

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I moved to Seattle in 2007 after I earned my PhD in microbiology and molecular genetics from Michigan State to pursue a post-doc in Dr. Sauro’s lab at the University of Washington. While at UW, I studied a variety of things, including the evolutionary stability of genetic circuits and developing novel DNA assembly methods for synthetic biology. This work led to a job at Matrix Genetics where I was a manager in their synthetic biology group. We were responsible for developing synthetic biology techniques used to genetically alter bacterial strains. At the time I was an avid homebrewer and interested in pursuing brewing science as a possible career path. Matrix Genetics ended up closing shop, so I decided that was as good a time as any to start a business.

Without SoundBio, what were the key barriers that would've prevented you from being able to attempt your project?

Everything!  Rent, lab space, and of course equipment. I would have had to pay thousand(s) a month to have a lab space because a standard office space wasn’t an option. It needed to be a lab….so really, it was the only financially viable option that included access to lab equipment.

What impact from your Sleight Brewing work are you most proud of during your time running it at SoundBio?

Finding a unique yeast strain that other people can use to make great beer. I can now go to a brewery, order a beer, and know that it was fermented with my own strain. That is very exciting and cool. It was possible because I could do brewing science at SoundBio.

How did SoundBio help with your transition between jobs?

SoundBio played a huge role! It allowed me to make a modest income after my unemployment ran out and to pursue a brewing science hobby at the same time. It meant I did not have to move out of the city or take a horrible job, just to pay the bills. It gave me some breathing room, and a runway of sorts, to take time to assess a new market (without a huge upfront financial investment that required investors). It was really an unknown entity, starting this business.  As I see it, there were two options:

1) develop a hot new technology and then go after investors...or

2) leverage my science background, do something I know how to do & make money immediately

The 2nd choice was obvious given my financial constraints. There was too much risk and uncertainty with option 1, not to mention the time frame would likely be years.

Yeast Propagator to make 5+gallon pitches.

Yeast Propagator to make 5+gallon pitches.

How, if at all, did being connected to and interacting with the SoundBio community (its members and others who would drop in from time to time) help you on your project?

I received a lot of moral support, particularly from Mike, a SoundBio co-founder. He offered a lot of encouragement. Zach was also very interested and supportive. I felt like SoundBio was taking a bit of chance on this project and new business. They could have said no, but instead, SoundBio embraced the unknown, and I am tremendously thankful for it.

Little things in the lab made a difference: I was given specific equipment training (as needed) and both Zach and Yoshi were great sounding boards to bounce ideas off of. So it’s really a combination of moral support, and having some technical expertise that was most helpful.

What are some ways that SoundBio could improve its ability to enable more entrepreneurs in the future?

It’s actually pretty amazing already, what’s going on at the lab. I have no real complaints and there were no specific barriers that prevented me from doing anything for my business, Sleight Beer Lab, so any feedback would be minor. One issue that could be improved is scheduling of large groups. It did get crowded sometimes when there were 12 iGEM kids in the lab, so knowing that schedule ahead of time would be helpful, but I fully recognize that it’s a community lab and it will get busy.

Beer Agar Plates sold by Sleight Beer Lab.

Beer Agar Plates sold by Sleight Beer Lab.

SoundBio is a community of amateur and professional science enthusiasts dedicated to providing access to biotechnology, equitable science education, and supporting the next generation of young scientists. How does Sleight Beer Lab both benefit from, and help support SoundBio’s mission?

By using SoundBio’s lab space, I was able to start a business with very little upfront risk at a fraction of the cost. My business never could never have existed without SoundBio Lab.

Broadly speaking, SoundBio allowed me to use my wet-lab skills to help bring biotechnology to the brewing industry - to solve real world problems. So I think this clearly made an impact, and benefited my clients who are not trained in genetics, microbiology, or fermentation analysis of yeast strains. It is also exciting to know that through my work in the lab, I was able to identify and share new, robust yeast strains that can used to ferment high quality beer - for many others to enjoy!  I learned recently that one brewery in Seattle is now using my yeast as their house strain.

I also taught a workshop on yeast, which was fun to do, and I think benefited many homebrewers in the area.

I did my best to give back to the SoundBio community directly by teaching others. I love that SoundBio welcomes and accepts amateur scientists (not just professionals). During the past year, I helped train 2 interns, teaching them molecular biology and microbiology as related to the beer industry. This was done in part because it’s fun to give back (once you know something, teaching is fun), but also because it was great to see so much enthusiasm for my work. It was mutually beneficial and is part of the culture at SoundBio.

Celgene 'Be a Scientist for a Day' Workshop Event

In early November 2018, SoundBio Lab teamed up with Celgene for a one-of-a-kind biotech workshop event for middle school children. Held at Celgene’s Juno Therapeutic’s location in Seattle, WA, this event specifically targeted girls and under-represented minorities in order to promote diversity in biotechnology.

The children were treated to several hands-on science activities designed specifically by Celgene and SoundBio scientists.  The goal of this event was to inspire kids to envision themselves as scientists, and to help them see the connection between DNA and cancer.

Staff and volunteers from both SoundBio and Celgene led 7 different groups of kids in these hands-on activities, starting with a favorite, strawberry DNA extraction. The groups then participated in a novel cancer game where they got to tear apart paper mache cells to learn about healthy DNA variation, as well as the different kinds of mutations that can lead to cancer. The final activity was learning how to micropipet using colored water, parafilm, petri dishes, and 96 well plates. All in all, the kids and volunteers had a wonderful morning learning about biology.

We hope to continue this workshop series as an annual event. If you have a middle school student who is interested in biology, we’d love for you to join us! You can do so by following this LINK.

How SoundBio acquires equipment & consumables

SoundBio Lab started as an empty space, but soon filled up, and fast!

So how did a new community non-profit lab acquire so much, so quickly?

We get asked this question a lot, so figured it was a great idea for a blog post. Not surprisingly, the short answer to this question is a variety of places. Our founders, members, donors, UW, and biotech companies all played a role in contributing resources.

It turned out that a number of our DIY members had equipment and chemicals they wanted to share. With a community lab space, it allowed them to free up storage space at their own home, and to share things that didn’t get used often. Definitely a win:win.

There is also a small but vibrant biotech community in Seattle, including organizations who grow, who get bought out, or labs at UW that downsize or fold. In many cases, they are looking for places to donate used and older model pieces of equipment. Because we are the only biology focused community lab in the area, folks were happy to offer up extra supplies once they knew about us. Organizations like Altius Institute, Fred Hutch and Zymogenetics all contributed in this way, and we are very grateful for the donations.

We also received individual donations (thank you Kris Ganjam!) as well as some generous financial donations to purchase hard-to-find items with a high price-point. Our -80 Freezer is an example; it has turned out to be extraordinarily useful for our members. Another anonymous donor gave the lab a wonderful new compound microscope. You can read more about that specific item here.

We also love to shop at the UW Surplus Store. This is a wonderful resource for non-profits looking to acquire more expensive items that are normally not within a limited budget. The surplus store is like Goodwill - you never know what you’re going to find - but when you find it, you’re super excited because you got an amazing deal!

Examples of items we’ve purchased from the surplus store: new lab consumables, bins, chairs, racks, glassware, office supplies and more.

Due to our connections in the Puget Sound, we sometimes don’t have space for, or need all the supplies we find through our network. In cases like this, we do our best to find worthy recipients. For example, a number of supplies were sent to Africa to help start another DIY Lab. A former iGEM student of SoundBio is starting a new lab in Southern CA, so we were able to help resource a number of useful items from Zymogenetics to aid this effort.

Whether an item lands in our lab, or another, we are extremely grateful for the ongoing community support. It’s one of the reasons we hope to be around for a very, very long time.

Roya, helping to start a lab in LA called Polymerspace. Supplies donated by Zymogenetics.

Roya, helping to start a lab in LA called Polymerspace. Supplies donated by Zymogenetics.

Maker Day at MOHAI

SoundBio was delighted to be featured as a Maker for the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) Maker Day event on Saturday, Oct 27, 2018.

MOHAI - the Museum of History and Industry is located in South Lake Union - Seattle, WA.

MOHAI - the Museum of History and Industry is located in South Lake Union - Seattle, WA.

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This series runs once a month at the Museum of History and Industry, and features a new Maker group each month. We were asked to host our ‘Painting with Bacteria’ activity which is always a crowd favorite.

So, how does it work?

In order to create your own microbial masterpiece, you need special bacteria based ‘paint’ that we grow in the lab. Using a Q-tip, participants dip into a tube of liquid ‘paint’, and gently paint onto an agar-coated petri dish. The agar is food for the bacteria, so after folks finish painting, we incubate the plates overnight to allow the bacteria time to replicate and grow.

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The key to this activity is getting the right strain of modified E. coli bacteria (that is safe to handle too!).

So how do these bacteria strains express different colors?

They’ve been altered to include a small, circular piece of DNA called a plasmid. These plasmids have an additional gene inserted in them, and that gene can express a different color or fluorescent protein.

In short, scientists have found the genes responsible for these proteins, isolated them, and have learned how to genetically engineer other organisms (like E.coli) to express these proteins! Amazing, right?

Of course you can find fluorescent proteins in nature too, the most famous being Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), which was first isolated from the jellyfish, Aequorea victoria. Once isolated, this gene proved to be a very useful tool for research scientists. In this case we’re using it for some artistic fun!

Check out our set-up and a few pictures of folks enjoying this event. After the plates grew in the incubator, we snapped another set of images - UV light, and white and black backgrounds (below). The full set were recently shared with the participants and are located HERE.

Finally, we’d like to thank MOHAI and our wonderful volunteers for helping to make this fun, hands-on event possible!

Our SoundBio Lab volunteers (L to R): Holly Sawyer, Christiana Doulami, and Taylor Wang

Our SoundBio Lab volunteers (L to R): Holly Sawyer, Christiana Doulami, and Taylor Wang

Above are a few fun examples of our participant’s plates after incubation. Very creative!

iTesla-SoundBio iGEM Team competes in Boston

The iTesla-SoundBio high school iGEM team recently attended and presented their research project at the annual iGEM Giant Jamboree held in Boston, Oct 24-29, 2018.

The iTesla-SoundBio iGEM Team in Boston, MA. Fall, 2018.

The iTesla-SoundBio iGEM Team in Boston, MA. Fall, 2018.

At the Jamboree, iTesla-SoundBio was able to present the project that they had been working on for the past year in SoundBio’s labspace. Their 2018 project focused on synthesizing a protein called Factor C. This protein is found in the Limulus amoebocyte lysate assay that coagulates in the presence of endotoxin.  

At the Jamboree, iTesla-SoundBio was delighted to be awarded Bronze for their project! The team learned more about the field of synthetic biology, met some amazing teams from around the world, and had a blast doing it.

The team in front of their poster.

The team in front of their poster.

To learn more about the iTesla-SoundBio iGEM team or to join them for their upcoming (third!) season, check out their dedicated website !

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New Compound Microscope Donated to the Lab

Thanks to a very generous donor, we now have a brand new Compound Microscope! It’s the OMAX 40X-2500X Full Size Lab Digital Trinocular Compound LED Microscope with 14MP USB Camera and 3D Mechanical Stage.

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Here are some detailed specs:

  • Total magnification: 40X-100X-250X-400X-1000X-2500X

  • Objectives: achromatic DIN 4X, 10X, 40X (S), 100X (S, Oil)

  • Viewing head: 45 degrees inclined 360 degrees swiveling trinocular

  • Interpupillary distance: sliding adjustable 2-3/16inch ~ 2-15/16inch (55mm ~ 75mm); Diopter: adjustable on both eyepiece tubes; Nosepiece: revolving quadruple

  • Stage: mechanical stain-resistant double layer, size: 5-1/2inch x 5-1/2inch (140mm x 140mm), translation range: 3inch x 2inch (75mm x 50mm); Photo tube adjustment range: 5/8inch (15mm)

  • Focus: coaxial coarse and fine focus knobs on both sides, rack and pinion adjustment, with tension control; Focusing knob can be locked for observation and transportation

  • Condenser and diaphragm: Abbe NA1.25 rack and pinion adjustment condenser with iris aperture diaphragm

  • Black palm rest on the base; Illumination: transmitted (lower), replaceable 3W LED light, variable intensity; Metal mechanical components; Power supply: 100V~240V 50/60Hz worldwide range (US and Canada power plug)

  • Digital camera: - true color 4096x3288 pixels (14M pixels) - 0.5X reduction lens to get larger field of view - 0.01 mm calibration slide: 1mm/100 division - Frame speed: 1.8fps at 4096x3288, 10fps at 2048x1644, 27fps at 1024x822

  • Software compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10, Mac OS and Linux operating system - Capturing microscope images, recording live video, measuring lengths, angles, areas, editing images - USB cable included

Once you hook up your laptop with the cables, you can download the software/drivers to get up and running. We were able to do this without too much difficulty. A company called Carolina sells live samples, so we looked at mixed infusoria, volvox globator, ameoba proteus, hydra and mixed protozoa with the scope.

Here’s a larger Rotifer.

Here’s a larger Rotifer.

Amoeba! Very fun to watch move about by extending and retracting ‘pseudopods’. Video below.

Amoeba! Very fun to watch move about by extending and retracting ‘pseudopods’. Video below.

Single-celled paramecium (protazoa). Notice the cilia hairs on the exterior.

Single-celled paramecium (protazoa). Notice the cilia hairs on the exterior.

Watch the amoeba change shape. Towards the end of the clip you’ll see some much smaller bacteria moving around.

SoundBio presents at Amazon's Women in Engineering (AWE) TECH EXPO

SoundBio was thrilled to be a presenter at Amazon’s 4th annual AWE (Amazon’s Women in Engineering) Tech Expo on September 29th. This 3 hour event was held at Amazon’s Seattle Downtown Meeting Center, and hosted 900 registered friends and families of Amazon workers. The goal was to offer the children of Amazon employees a variety of hands-on STEM-related activities and other opportunities to help promote engineering. From robotics to 3D printers, the event had a little bit of everything!

Three large screens displayed the AWE logo to welcome everyone.

Three large screens displayed the AWE logo to welcome everyone.

SoundBio was a popular stopping point as we demoed our microscope clips and shared our new Filtration Challenge to all the adults and children. We couldn’t help but be inspired ourselves…as our neighboring booth displayed an amazing pair of 3-D printed heels! Female engineering power at its finest.

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Each shoe took 30 hours to print, and were worn…exactly once.

We can’t do these types of events without our wonderful volunteers, so a HUGE thank you to Christiana, Sarah, Sophie and Zach. We hope you had as much fun as the kids!

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Celgene & SoundBio are Teaming Up for a Biotech Workshop!

We are delighted to announce that Celgene, a world class biotechnology company, will be teaming up with SoundBio for a one-of-a-kind biotech workshop event on November 3rd, 2018. This event is generously sponsored by Celgene, and will be held at their wholly-owned subsidiary, Juno Therapeutics at their Seattle office.

The event will include a number of activities for middle school students, but our goal is simple: get kids excited and inspired by the power of science and biotechnology. The kids will walk away with a new understanding of DNA, its relationship to cancer, and how scientists use different tools and methods to study disease.

We are currently recruiting for this event, so check out our flyer below. If you are interested, please REGISTER HERE, or simply reach out to Holly Sawyer, our event organizer. Thank you!

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SoundBio reaches new heights at the Museum of Flight

SoundBio was delighted to be included in the Museum of Flight’s Maker Night on Sept 19th, 2018. This is the second year that the Museum of Flight has hosted this event and we understand why - the event was SOLD OUT!

Offered specifically to their Connection Members, the families that visited our booth were eager to learn more about what we do and how we do it. The reception could not have been warmer or more enthusiastic. We met many home school families too, and they fell in love with our 3D printed microscope clips. We make these clips in the lab, add a lens, and then clip them onto a smartphone camera or tablet. This clever device instantly turns any smartphone into a microscope. The best part is taking pictures and videos with the camera functions on your phone.

One woman got so excited when she saw Abe Lincoln on a penny, she decided to purchase them for everyone in her learning group! Here’s a picture I snapped during the event using these microscope clips:

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Aside from meeting some wonderful kids and parents, we were also pretty excited to have our table situated directly in front of a GE jet engine, and a new 787 Boeing Dreamliner! It was an incredible venue and a beautiful evening. We look forward to attending more Museum of Flight activities in the future.

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Seattle's Mini Maker Faire 2018 is in the books!

We had a fantastic time at Seattle's Mini Maker Faire, 2018 at MoPOP in Seattle's City Center this past weekend, Aug 18 - 19th. This is the second time SoundBio Labs hosted a table at this 2 day event.

We presented a new tabling activity this year, and it was very well received by both kids and adults. With the help of one of our members, Riti Biswas, who was working at the Baker Lab at UW, we came up with the Filtration Challenge. The goal is to separate out rice from 3 other 'contaminants' that are all mixed together in a bowl. We provide participants with a variety of scientific 'tools' to complete the challenge. It's up to them to figure out the best way to do it.

We love this new tabling event for a variety of reasons:

  • Filtration (and separation) are core practices in any biology lab
  • It's 100% hands-on in terms of engagement
  • Appeals to a wide age range - everyone enjoys a challenge!
  • Forces the participant to think about their approach to a problem
  • There is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to do it, but some methods are easier
  • Allows us to talk about things like sterility, sample loss, and efficiency  - all important topics 
  • Filtration is relevant to more than just biology - most STEM fields deal with contamination, or separation - whether it's to purify a sample or to reduce background noise for signal detection
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Our second challenge was the (always well received) Black Box Challenge! Folks love this puzzle because it's hands-on, and well, quite difficult! We offer 5 different black boxes that all have a marble in them. The participant needs to figure out, by rolling the marble around, what shape is inside each box. We have a sheet that shows all the shapes, and they have to match the boxes to the sheet correctly. The idea behind this challenge is that science is very much a black box! We need to use our observation skills and we need to gather evidence to support our hypothesis. 

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So there you have it, another great Maker Faire for SoundBio Labs, in the books!

Tour of WA State Public Health Laboratory

Thanks to one of our members, we were able to set up a private tour of the WA State  Department of Public Health (Division of Disease Control), this past Thursday in Shoreline, WA. We had a great turnout, and the almost 2 hour tour was excellent! This facility services the entire state of WA, and does work on a wide variety of infectious diseases and contaminants in our environment. They handle BSL level 3 activities (such as TB). According to their website, they "provide diagnostic and analytical services for the assessment & surveillance of infectious, communicable, genetic, and chronic diseases and environmental health concerns". 

Our tour included divisions of Epidemiology, Environmental Sciences, Newborn Screening, and Infectious Diseases.  Infectious diseases included STDs, TB, Rabies, and MMR to name a few. A highlight was watching a technician dissect a rabies infected bat found on the University of WA campus. Click through the pictures below to view some bats that were provided by the Burke Museum:

The Environmental Sciences group tests air, water and ground contaminants. This group is comprised mostly of chemists, trying to detect things outside our body, that could potentially harm humans.  For example, they can detect nuclear isotopes which is important given our proximity to DOE's Nuclear Hanford Site in Eastern WA. They are also involved in monitoring our air quality, which was vitally important after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 (winds brought radioactive particles to our shore). In addition to isotope detecting, they also monitor neurotoxins in our coastal waters. They have a dedicated shellfish lab where they collect and test shellfish regularly, so we know if our local shellfish is safe to eat. Here are a few pictures you can click through to see their labs and instrumentation:

The newborn screening group was in a newer section of the building and had an incredible MS-MS (mass spec - mass spec) that could screen up to 75 different assays at once. Currently they use it for 18 of the 29 different screening tests that are mandated by the state of WA on all babies. It was fascinating! Here's a last set of pictures that include some specialized baby formula that they offer to PKU families in need:

It was obvious that all of the scientists who took time out of their busy schedules to show us their labs, are extremely smart, passionate and dedicated to their work. It was an extraordinary glympse into the safety monitoring system that goes on behind the scenes, every day, to help keep us safe. Science at its best!

Seattle's 2018 Mini Maker Faire Prep Starts Now!

We are excited to attend Seattle's Annual Mini Maker Faire coming up next month, Aug 18 -19th.  This will be out second time attending the Maker Faire at the iconic MoPOP museum in Seatte's City Center. We will have items to sell, and of course some fun, hands-on activities for kids and adults. Be sure to check out their website to see what other groups will be tabling along with us.

The red hot Maker Movement is going strong in the PNW, and is having a great impact in our community. Last year they had over 8,000 attendees so we were very busy! If you are interested in helping out, or know someone who would like to volunteer at our booth, please consider reaching out to us at info (at) sound.bio . We love being part of this DIY movement. Please join us!

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Debuting our new -80 Freezer!

How low can you go?!

This is the question we asked our VWR Rep when we started our search for a new -80 Freezer. Well, okay, maybe not, but the cool (ha ha) new -80 FREEZER that just arrived in the lab can go way below freezing, the key feature we need to safely store our bacterial cell lines and yeast samples.  We are beyond excited to add this awesome piece of equipment to SoundBio Lab! As with everything, we had quite the experience 1) getting it to the lab and 2) getting it into position, but we can safely say that it's ready to be plugged in soon.

After reviewing our options and considering a variety of units, we eventually decided upon the Model SU105UE Ultra-low Temperature Undercounter Freezer by Stirling Ultracold. What we liked:

  • Low energy consumption, <4kWh/day @ -80 --> no crazy electrical bills!
  • Small, under the bench footprint --> it fits!
  • Plugs into any basic outlet --> wont fry our electrical grid!
  • 3.7 cu.ft --> can store almost 100 standard freezer boxes!
  • 100% natural refrigerants --> sounds good! :)
  • Cheap(er) shipping --> we are a non-profit!

So, if you aren't familiar with freezing cell lines (sometimes referred to as cryopreservation), having a -80 is key to maintaining cell viability. Different cell lines prefer different freezing medium, but in general, some kind of croyprotective agent such as DMSO or glycerol needs to be used. There are many protocols out there - so we'll have to do some testing to see what works best for us.

Next step: Hit up the UW Surplus store and stack up (ha ha) on some freezer boxes and cryotubes. We'll keep you posted when we are ready to plug it in.