Competition/High School

International Genetically Engineered Machine

iGEM Competition for High Schools

A High School iGEM program is an exciting way for high school students and instructors to learn about and engage in synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is a growing area of science that fuses Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The High School division brings synthetic biology from the world of academia into local communities.

The iGEM Competition season runs from May to October, and culminates in the Giant Jamboree in November. Teams spend the season learning about synthetic biology, developing their own project ideas, gaining laboratory experience, and collecting and processing primary data from their experiments. The Jamboree in November allows teams to present their projects to a panel of judges as well as to their peers and other iGEM teams.

High school teams participate in iGEM as part of the main competition. High school teams follow the same timeline, deadlines and attendance dates as the collegiate teams. They also are responsible for all of the same Competition Deliverables (items needed to fulfill competition criteria), and are evaluated by judges using the same criteria as the collegiate teams. This is an exciting opportunity for high school members: not only will they be able to compete against other high schools, but they will have the great experience of the Giant Jamboree.

Example Projects

High school teams conduct impressive work. See below for examples from previous years!

GreatBay SZ 2019

SPIDERMAN - SPIDroin EngineeRing with chroMoprotein And Natural dye

This team of students from the Shenzhen area took home the High School Grand Prize in 2019 with their project SPIDERMAN - SPIDroin EngineeRing with chroMoprotein And Natural dye. Inspired by superhero battle suits, they biosynthesized colored spider silk, a material with applications in medicine, textiles, and aerospace fields.

Lambert GA 2018

Captivate: Capture the Data & Activate the Response

Vibrio cholerae, a pathogenic waterborne bacteria, impacts millions of people annually. Lambert iGEM designed a low-cost, sustainable riboregulated diagnostic kit to address V. cholerae epidemics, by predicting outbreaks, thus providing low-cost sustainable diagnostic tools while enhancing quality prediction.

HSiTAIWAN 2016

Biosensor for Toxin in Chinese Herb Medicine

Adulteration of heavy metal and toxin during manufacturing process has always been a concern to chinese medicine consumers. HSiTAIWAN took home the High School Grand Prize in 2016 with their cheap, user-friendly E. coli biosensor design to detect harmful substances in the medicine.

FDR-HB Peru 2019

Fishing for CD: Making a bioassay to be used by Peruvian fishermen on site

FDR-HB Peru took home prizes in Public Engagement and Human Practices in 2019 for their work heavy metal contamination in fish-meal and oil exports. Their biosensor design would reduce the time required to detect dangerous heavy metals in Peruvian export products.

High School is a team "kind", section, and track

High School as a team "kind"

During registration, high school teams should register as a high school team "kind". This will make it easier for high school teams to follow both the general team registration requirements and the additional registration requirements for high school. Your team profile page will reflect the status of the consent forms needed for registration, and help you keep track of which items have been submitted and which items are still pending.

High School as a section

There are three sections in iGEM 2020:

  • Undergraduate
  • Overgraduate
  • High School

Each of these sections will be evaluated for a set of Special Prizes. As a section, High School teams are eligible for the High School Grand Prize, similar to the Undergraduate Grand Prize, and Overgraduate Grand Prize.

High School as a track

Due to the experimental nature of high school in iGEM, HS teams participate in the competition in the High School track. Although they will not be able to officially choose an additional project track (e.g. energy, environment, etc.), high school teams are encouraged to work on a topic they're passionate about.

Participate in iGEM


Want to learn more about the iGEM Competition?

Visit the iGEM 2020 Competition Website for more details about this year's competition: