Bio Ink Plankton Cloud Project at the Bio Tinkering Lab

From the Tech Museum
The Tech has commissioned artist Michele Guieu to create a participatory art and science installation for the Biotinkering
Lab wall in collaboration with museum staff. The installation will be a cloud of petri dishes that each contain a mini plankton soup stamped with bio ink grown and harvested at The Tech using Streptomyces, a genus of naturally occurring soil bacteria. The custom stamps represent a variety of plankton species drawn by Michele Guieu from microscopic photography. Museum members are invited to stamp their own mini plankton soup on circles of watercolor paper. In September, Michele will choose the mini plankton soups that will be part of the final installation which will be put up in the Biotinkering Lab in late 2018.

Why Plankton?
What happens in the sea is of out of sight out of mind, but the microscopic world of plankton greatly affects us as humans. Plankton is the most significant life form on the planet and NASA has confirmed from satellites in space that marine phytoplankton produces at least 50% of the total oxygen we breathe. But due to human activity, Earth’s oceans are beginning to warm and turn acidic, endangering plankton and the entire marine food chain. Living systems (in this case, bacteria) can be used as a powerful manufacturing platform for things that humans need. Making inks this way is much more environmentally friendly than more traditional methods which employ synthetic chemistry and produce toxic waste. Plankton are like the canary in the coal mine of climate change — by monitoring them scientists learn about the ocean’s health. What if bio inks could be part of the solution, by being a great alternative to harsh chemicals needed to make art supplies?

Tech Museum Members Party
Plankton are like the canary in the coal mine of climate change. By monitoring them, scientists learn about the ocean’s health. What if bio inks could be part of the solution, by being a great alternative to harsh chemicals needed to make art supplies?
Create your own petri dish art using stamps of microscopic ocean life bio ink grown at the Tech Museum by Anja Scholtze and her team at the Bio Design Studio! The bio ink is produced by a living bacteria (streptomyces).

Anja developed an activity with bio ink for the public at the Bio Design Studio at the Tech Museum. Here is a summary of that activity:
Harvest and explore a natural pigment that is being produced by living bacteria right here at The Tech! Visitors can use chemistry to tinker with and control the color of the extracted molecule, then make their own artistic creation with museum-grown Bio Ink to take home. This is a fun and creative example of how living systems (in this case, bacteria) can be used as a powerful manufacturing platform for something that humans need, such as life-saving drugs or food
additives. Making ink this way is much more environmentally friendly than more traditional methods for producing inks which employ synthetic chemistry and can produce toxic chemical waste.
Age range: Designed for ages 10+. Kids as young as 7 years old may participate but they must be
supervised one-on-one by a parent or adult.
Duration: ~25 minutes

 

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