The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Bio Builders Club engineers sustainable solutions

The Bio Builders Club aims to solve environmental problems through DNA engineering, while fusing their interests in multiple different fields of science.

On early dismissal each Wednesday, students make their way to a sport, extracurricular or home. At this time, junior Soleil-Hayes Pollard and seniors Simrah Bawa and Isabella Wong, along with fellow students, meet as a part of the Bio Builders Club.

Bio Builders offers students the chance to combine different areas of science and explore hands-on ways to solve environmental problems such as the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or the plastic found in our food. Through a process of research, brainstorming and guidance from people who are experienced in environmental science, the group of 10 students hopes to create solutions to the environmental issues that are looming over us today.

The Bio Builders Club began when Hayes-Pollard came across the organization Bio Builders in searching for summer programs that focused on climate change and the environment and decided to start implementing the club at the high school.

When the school year began, Hayes-Pollard did not hesitate to reach out to her Biology teacher Sarah Hemphill, hoping she could advise the club. Hemphill agreed and the new Bio Builders Club was set into motion. Hayes-Pollard sent out a Canvas announcement introducing the program and a form attached for those who wanted to apply. Bawa said she was drawn to the club from Hayes-Pollard’s announcement.

“I think that I’ve just been interested in the interaction between biology and engineering, but there haven’t been that many opportunities in school,” Bawa said. “I think school is so focused on dividing categories into subjects, and I think the opportunity to do something like that [Bio Builders] stood out to me.”

Bio Builders is unlike other STEM programs as it incorporates many different areas of science, with an emphasis on environmental science. Hayes-Pollard said before diving into research, the members got to know each other through bonding and are now shifting to start their first research project of the year.

“This week we are going to start focusing on a project where we will research different environmental issues and then start thinking about what solutions we can create with DNA engineering,” said Hayes-Pollard.

Wong said the club hopes to solve more environmental problems as well.

“For our final product, we definitely want to do some detection methods,” Wong said. “Either on how to detect plastics in food by bioluminescence, or we want to just speed up the photosynthesis process for plants and make them pump out more oxygen and take in more carbon dioxide because of climate change.”

Hayes-Pollard said to help create these projects, the club is provided with resources and guided by mentors.

“The mentors are hands-off but they do supply you with different resources and some lab supplies,” Hayes-Pollard said.

Not only is Bio Builders an opportunity for its members to further their scientific knowledge outside of the classroom, but it also provides a close-knit circle of friends.

“I think that because it’s only 10 people per team we have a very tight-knit community in there and we do a good amount of both research and reading and also brainstorming and doing our own thinking which has been really fun,” Bawa said.

Like Bawa, Wong appreciates the community. However, Wong said her favorite part is the opportunity to go beyond the biology that is taught in school and do a larger variety of biology-related labs which she wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.

“In a school setting we are not as creative and we usually follow the procedures that we are given,” Wong said. “But in Bio Builders, we really just conduct our own labs or find labs that we are interested in and do them as a community.”

Hayes-Pollard said with this being the first year that the Bio Builders Club is active, the members are hoping to lay down the groundwork for this new club and learn as much as they can to apply their knowledge to what it is they end up building.

“We are high schoolers and it is hard because we don’t have access to all these materials like undergrads or people who are in college or universities do,” Hayes-Pollard said. “My goal would just be to do as much as we can with our resources or using connections or even our bio-mentor to create a project we are actually proud of.”

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