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Simon and the Sprinting Spirits

It is always great to see how CMOP is translating our transformative research for the next generation of scientists.

On March 9th, Holly Simon (photo left in black vest) and her research group gave young students eye-opening demonstrations on how real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), SHARP sensor arrays and the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) are used to identify microorganisms in environmental samples.

The students, ages 11-13 years old, are part of the First LEGO League and call themselves the Sprinting Spirits. They have developed a project to build a LEGO robotic instrument, RBD (Real Time Bacterial detection) that detects campylobacter – a microorganism that is one of the main causes of bacterial foodborne disease - using a novel density gradient flotation method and real-time PCR.

Part of their project is to meet scientists that use real-time detection and demonstrate their device. The visit to Simon’s lab helped them gain a broader understanding about PCR and real-time PCR. They will use that knowledge to make improvements to their project.

The team will present their project at FLL World Invitational Open Championship in Florida on May 3-6.