Introducing Bioengineering in Kindergarten

CRISPEE is a tangible tool for young children ages 5-8 years to explore developmentally appropriate concepts from bioengineering and gene-editing. CRISPEE presents genes through the metaphor of a coding language for living organisms. CRISPEE was pilot-tested at early childhood museums and learning settings around the Greater Boston area from 2017 to 2019, and findings are currently being disseminated. This project is part of a collaboration with the Wellesley College Human-Computer Interaction Lab, and sponsored by the National Science Foundation (Grant No. IIS-1149530). 

Check out the Tufts Graduate School of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering spotlight article on Amanda Strawhacker, a DevTech Ph.D. Student working to develop the CRISPEE technology and curriculum.

Research

Bioengineering is a cutting-edge interdisciplinary STEM field at the forefront of scientific progress, combining the fields of engineering and microbiology to create biologically-based solutions to real-world problems. Young children (ages 5-8 years) are at a critical age to explore the world around them through a multidisciplinary lens, and educational advances in other domains (engineering, technology, and computer science) have shown that children as young as age 4 are capable of learning core concepts of bioengineering. In this National Science Foundation-funded project (NSF Grant No. IIS-1563932), DevTech has partnered with Wellesley College’s Human Computer Interaction Lab to develop a suite of tools for ages K-12 to explore foundational concepts of synthetic biology. CRISPEE is a tangible, developmentally-appropriate tool to introduce the youngest children to foundational concepts of bioengineering. Our current CRISPEE prototype is modeled on the real-world CRISPR/Cas-9 gene editing system, and allows children to play with genetic programs to solve real-world problems using an ethical design lens.

Publications and Papers: For a list of publications related to CRISPEE and bioengineering, please visit the DevTech Publications Page.

Curriculum Resources

In addition to developing CRISPEE, our team has created pilot curricular resources, including lesson plans with practice recommendations for exploring bioengineering and a storybook to introduce children to the CRISPEE tool, and a series of activities, worksheets, and anchor charts to reinforce key concepts of bioengineering.

Pilot CRISPEE Curriculum

CRISPEE Picture Book

Ethical Design Process Poster