Secondary students in Kamloops are getting a unique and rare experience inside the world of genomics and genetics when Genome BC’s Geneskool program visits 16 science, biology and forensics classes at five secondary schools this week. Students will participate in fun and interactive genomics workshops featuring tailor-made experiments and activities exploring themes such as genetic code, inheritance, mutations, DNA structure, function and extraction and DNA gel electrophoresis. These engaging workshops introduce students to realms of science not currently encompassed in their ongoing curriculum. The workshops also allow students to exercise their problem-solving skills to analyze suspect interrogation reports and fingerprints to solve a mystery.
The students will also learn what a genome is: an organism’s complete set of DNA – basically a blueprint for an organism’s structure and function. They will also learn what genomics is: the science that aims to decipher and understand the entire genetic information of an organism (i.e. plants, animals, humans, viruses and microorganisms) encoded in DNA. Genomics is an information science that is increasingly becoming more important as every living organism on the planet has a genome.
The Genome BC Geneskool volunteers, scientist presenters from UBC’s Let’s Talk Science program, are often MSc and PhD candidates who share their motivation and passion for science with the students.
The Genome BC Geneskool programs have been active in communities throughout BC for almost a decade and embrace the mantra that nowhere is too far or too small to visit. The program also shares science in a mobile fashion with creative Genome BC Geneskool Travelling Suitcase Exhibits full of portable displays and hands on activities and materials. These exhibits are shipped up, down, across and around the province so that they are accessible to all teachers throughout BC who use them in their classrooms to enhance the current curriculum.
“Molecular biology is an integral part of our natural world,” says Sally Greenwood, Vice President, Communications and Education at Genome BC. “The Genome BC Geneskool program offers students a chance to use advanced laboratory technology and techniques to see the tiny world that exists at the microbial level while learning, having fun and garnering a greater appreciation of the world around us.”
“I don’t think we can underestimate the need to promote science to the next generation,” says Dr. Alan Winter, President & CEO of Genome BC. “The opportunities being presented through scientific research are fundamental to BC’s future prosperity and it is my belief that the resources offered by Genome BC Geneskool, which can be found on our website at www.genomebc.ca/education, could otherwise be inaccessible information by students and teachers.”