Second Year PhD student, Niki Wyatt, recently visited Portree High School on the Isle of Skye, as part of a Royal Society Partnership Grant between Niki and Jennifer Hendry, the head of Biology at the school.
Royal Society Partnership Grants provide funds to support collaborations between teachers and scientists on science based projects which inspire young people and give them an insight into modern science. This grant was specifically to support the development and implementation of DNA based practicals within the school for S1 to S6. The grant has enabled the school to purchase new equipment and consumables for molecular biology practicals, including restriction enzyme digestion and bacterial transformation.
"The greater impact of molecular biology and genetics on the modern world has made it increasingly important for children to understand the applications and to make informed opinions about the ethical implications of technologies arising from these areas."
During this visit Niki spent most of her time helping to design and troubleshoot practicals which will be undertaken over the next academic year. The practicals designed can be completed in one lesson, are reliable in a classroom setting and are low cost, meaning that they can be run for all pupils on a school budget. She also spoke to an S2 class about the scientific applications of DNA and this class were then the first to try out one of the new practicals: a paternity test!
"The pupils enjoyed the chance to use equipment and techniques which were entirely new to them. The practical allowed them to see and try the techniques used in real labs (not just hear about them) giving a richer, more interactive learning experience".
Niki will be re-visiting the school in October to see the practicals in action and to give career and scientific talks to pupils.