The Gene Technology day organised by the Biology Department for the year 13 classes was a great success. Dr John Scholar, a quirky, entertaining professor of Genetics from Reading University led the sessions.
PCR and Gel Electrophoresis are extremely technical processes used to analyse DNA samples, requiring a wide range of chemicals, including various dyes and enzymes, plus expensive equipment that is used in industry. In S5 we used Lucozade, a homemade but ‘very safe’ electric current box and a wobbly microcentrifuge. The sessions were a lot of fun: the students had the chance to use professional equipment such as micropipettes, and two Thermo cyclers named Francis and Crick. The students were put through their practical paces by Dr Scholar, whose enthusiasm and passion made the hours fly by.
We were able to amplify and visualise our own mitochondrial DNA during the session and enjoyed seeing the results of our hard work the next day.
Overall it was a great experience; the students gained valuable insight into the complexity of DNA analysis, developed their practical skills and produced their very own gel DNA profiles to keep at the end of a fantastic experience.