On Wednesday 6th March 5 lucky students were able to attend the 25th Schools’ Day at the Babraham Institute. The event involved students listening to two career based lectures before working alongside researchers on world-leading bioscience taking place at the Institute. It was an amazing experience and the students thought the Schools’ Day projects were awe-inspiring.
Here are their accounts of the day:
The Biology Trip was eye-opening for me. Stepping inside the amazing ‘Cambridge Building’, I was intrigued to find out more about what the ‘Babraham Institute’ did. My favourite one out of the two careers talks was Charlotte’s as she fully described what university courses were available for her (and what A level subjects she had to take in order to choose the course she did). I also found it comforting to know that Charlotte still doesn’t know what she wants to do as a career and she is 10 years older than me!
Overall, my favourite part of the day was definitely the project! Who knew that a single grape has more genes than a human being? After an in-depth presentation the six of us headed down to the lab. The practical side of ‘Project Three’ (glow in the dark gene expressions) was fun. I loved using a mechanical pipette- it was so accurate and a lot easier to measure the volume of liquid you were taking up.
The highlight of the project ,for me, was using an up-to-date microscope which was automatically operated. Watching the dyes glow in a dark room was incredible. We also got a sneak peak at the Sequencing Lab which, as our group leader said, has ‘revolutionised science’.
Today we went on a trip to the Babraham institute where we were given a range of different activities to either partake in or listen to.
First was a talk given by two speakers who both had worked and researched at the institute. The first speaker spoke about his career through science, even leaving the subject at times. He was involved in scientific research for the government and was awarded an OBE for services to science. The second speaker was a current phd student who was still unaware of what she wanted to do post completing the course. Although she was unsure what she wanted to do, she emphasised the idea of saying yes to experience a range of things which we took into the later stages of the day.
After lunch, we were taken off by different group leaders to carry out our different projects. My project was to make glow-in-the-dark gene expressions. First, I was given a presentation by Stefan, the group leader, in which I learnt that if you lined up all the DNA in one cell (that is one-tenth of the size of a human hair), then the DNA stretches 2 meters (that is the average height of a basketball player). Then we moved on to carrying out the experiment. First we placed a slide in an incubated black chamber and added an enhancer probe, a promoter probe and DAPI solution to stain the cells. This slide was then looked at under a microscope where we saw different colours. Those being green, red and a mix of the two.
Overall, it was a very intriguing and enjoyable day.
Nicolas Garcia Hernandez
‘In my project, we looked at how restriction enzymes can be used as scientific scissors, allowing us to cut and recombine DNA molecules in any way. We learnt that restriction enzymes can recognise a particular complementary base pair sequence and make a cut after a specific base, to then be joined together with other DNA sequences, providing the principles of genetic engineering.
I found it fascinating as Gavin Kelsey (the researcher in charge of the project) explained to us the many applications this has and will have in modern and future medicine, at the time of preventing and curing all kinds of genetic diseases or disorders. Although this is currently only being tested on bacterial plasmids, there is no reason why it would not work on human DNA, as Gavin says, and medicine has only just started to benefit from the wonders of genetic engineering.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning about what working in a lab is like, as well as getting to meet some of the brilliant scientists who carry out research at Babraham and learning about their career choices. Overall, it was an amazing day full of new experiences and tons of learning, which has shown me how exciting and hands-on biological research can really be. I will most definitely want to return to Babraham at some point in the future.’