A-Level biology students from Kingsbury Green Academy had the opportunity to turn amateur sleuth recently when they attended a forensic science workshop at specialist educational laboratories of international pharmaceutical company Bayer - Baylab in Reading.

Twenty-two students from years 12 and 13 spent a day using specialist equipment to decode DNA and identify the theoretical remains found as a result of a shark attack off the coast of Cornwall.

The pupils were given the DNA of four missing people and had to use their molecular biology skills to amplify that DNA before separating the fragment sizes through gel electrophoresis and interpreting the resulting profiles to correctly identify the victim.

Pupils developed their understanding of genetic material and its use in forensic identification and gained hands-on experience with a variety of techniques and equipment beyond what can be covered in the classroom, including micropipettes, agarose gels and the PCR thermocycler.

Year 12 pupil Sarah took part in the workshop.  She explained: “It has given me lots of options to think about and I wasn’t expecting to learn as much as I did.  It was my first time in a proper lab and we had the chance to use lots of different equipment that we don’t have in school and to try out what we will be learning next year in Year 13.”

Fellow pupil Izzy added: “The workshop was quite fun, we’ve not done anything like it before and also haven’t done anything with DNA in school.  I found it quite interesting to be in a proper lab too, there was lots of different equipment that I hadn’t used before.”

Dani Park, Science Teacher at Kingsbury Green Academy, said: “The workshop was a great opportunity for our pupils to deepen their understanding of molecular biology and also experience what it would be like to work in a professional laboratory.

“We’re very grateful to Baylab for hosting the day, as well as the Wessex Inspiration Network for funding the cost of travel to Reading in order to ensure that all of pupils can embrace the opportunities available to them.”

Kingsbury Green Academy is part of the Ascend Learning Trust. 

For more information visit www.kingsburygreen.com


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