Over 200 secondary students from Burnaby, Maple Ridge, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver and Whistler are getting a unique and rare experience inside the world of genomics and genetics as they attend full-day workshops at Capilano University (Cap U). Genome BC’s Geneskool will be running classroom workshops in three laboratories at Cap U to introduce students to realms of science not currently encompassed in their ongoing curriculum.
The goal of the Geneskool full-day workshop is to introduce students to real laboratory techniques in a fun and interesting context. The basic theory behind the techniques will be discussed in an effort to increase students understanding of new topics and lab techniques. The workshop is based on a CSI style ‘murder mystery’ and students carry out simple DNA profiling to narrow down suspects in a mystery and are therefore introduced to PCR and gel electrophoresis. Beyond hands on experiments, the societal context and implications of various genomic technologies are discussed. As much as possible, these are student-driven discussions.
“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.”
Genomics is an information science that is increasingly becoming more important as every living organism on the planet has a genome. This program will help inspire the next generation of researchers. Students will 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.
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.
“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.”