20 April 2011
Just under 400 Year 12 and 13 students from local schools visited the University’s School of Biochemistry recently to participate in a day-long course of practical experiments, talks and demonstrations.
The course was part of the School of Biochemistry's outreach and widening participation programme and was designed to enable the students to try out advanced biochemical techniques in the School’s state-of-the-art teaching labs.
The theme of the day was ‘Molecular evolution: from pollock to people’. Among other activities, the students produced a gel that compared the muscle proteins of different fish to measure their evolutionary relatedness. Postgraduate students and staff turned out in force to help the students with the laboratory techniques and to help interpret their data. As well as practical sessions, the students were given talks on studying at Bristol and Dr Elinor Griffiths gave a seminar entitled ‘CSI mitochondria’ that explained how maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA is being used to trace human ancestry.
In the lab students were fascinated to discover that the large model of DNA in the corner was the actual one that Francis Crick and James Watson used as part of their pioneering work on the structure of DNA in the early 1950s.
The day ended with a quiz where teams of students competed to see who had learnt the most during the day.
Organiser Dr Gus Cameron said: ‘Reaching out to the local community by putting on events like this inspires local students to come and see what studying at Bristol is all about. The students and their teachers told us they found the day really useful and I think we convinced many potential students that studying science at degree level is incredibly rewarding.’