Advanced Genetic Fingerprinting Workshop for Schools
The project is run in partnership with the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, WTCHG. By late 2018, sixth form students from five schools have benefitted from the workshops, including Abingdon School, Sir William Borlase Grammar School, The Europa School, Carterton Community College and John Mason School. Scientists from the WTCHG and teachers from Abingdon School have worked together to design an advanced genetic fingerprinting workshop for sixth form biology students. The workshop enhances the skills and knowledge of the students and allows the scientists to fulfil their public outreach obligations.
The project aims to allow sixth form biologists to extend their knowledge and skills of current biological science and to work with practising scientists who can give first hand STEM careers advice.
The project came about through a contact of the Abingdon Science Partnership’s Co-ordinator who suggested that the ASP Lab at Abingdon School would be an ideal venue for such a project, due to the restrictive and controlled nature of the WTCHG’s own, working laboratories. Some of the scientists visited the ASP lab to assess the facilities and equipment and then worked up a plan for a suitable set of activities, involving PCR techniques and referencing genetic databases. A pilot workshop was carried out with Y13 biologists from Abingdon School, with feedback given by both teachers and participating students. The scientists then used the feedback to further refine the workshop, incorporating a more individual career path presentations and activities to occupy students whilst waiting for experimental processes to be completed. The workshop was then tested a second time with Abingdon School Y12 students before it was launched for other schools, who can now book the termly workshops in the ASP lab, fully supported by scientists from WTCHG.
The ASP lab is used as an ideal venue, together with standard lab equipment and the School’s own PCR machine. Technician support is provided by the School but all activities and practical work are run by the team of scientists, with an Abingdon School teacher in attendance. The ASP administers the booking system.
So far, in late 2018, sixth form students from five schools have benefitted from the workshops, including Abingdon School, Sir William Borlase Grammar School, The Europa School, Carterton Community College and John Mason School. Students were able to cite participation in UCAS applications and were also able to discuss personal career paths with the scientists, from a wide variety of backgrounds. One workshop was observed by the local MP who is also the Lib Dem Education Spokesperson.
Pupils are sixth formers from any school studying a course in Biology. Both A-level and IB students have participated.
This is an ongoing project which the scientists are able to run once per term in a school year.