Guest post by Hannah Davies
Together with fellow IIB colleagues Jill Madine and Kieran Hand, I recently attended the XVth International society of amyloidosis conference in Uppsala. After a brief stop in Stockholm to visit the Nobel Prize museum for inspiration we headed north to discuss all things amyloid! This 5 day biennial conference sees clinicians and scientists come together to discuss recent advances in basic understanding, clinical trial results and new developments. I was given the privilege of presenting our recent findings in an oral presentation – although terrifying, this was a great experience and gave rise to lots of interesting discussion over coffee! The conference also gave us the opportunity to meet up with existing collaborators from around the world and to develop new exciting collaborations. Following a packed 5 days we left Uppsala tired, enthused and delighted that we had tried authentic Swedish meatballs!
Guest post by Hannah Davies
The Neuroblastology project run with UTC Life Sciences School and funded by the Biochemical society has finished! Billions of cells grown, 25+ students participated, tens of compounds tested, 9.5/10 scored – overall, we all had a (neuro)blast!!
Here is Dr John Dyer, teacher at LLS-UTC:
This has been an incredibly successful project that has proved to be very popular with students from across the year groups. The students have gained valuable skills in cell culture and aseptic technique as well as a range of transferrable skills such as leadership, time management (in order to care for the cells), experimental design and evaluating and improving upon techniques and procedures. The level of enthusiasm and engagement that students have shown has been incredible and many students have happily given up time at lunchtime breaks and after school in order to tend to the cells or collect data. This enthusiasm and engagement has certainly been increased by the fact that Hannah spent time training the students at the start as well as coming in on a number of occasions to provide technical expertise and support with experimental design. Students regularly commented that they have enjoyed these sessions and found it useful to have direct contact with active researchers. Perhaps the most striking thing for me was how disappointed the students were when some of their cells got infected. However, they responded brilliantly by developing their procedures in order to minimise the risk of further contamination. This sort of resilience, coupled with the level of care, accuracy and precision required during this project will prove invaluable to students at the start of their scientific careers.
Although the project has come to and end for this year, we are delighted to report that it will continue next year as part of UTC’s enrichment curriculum! We are also in the process of moving aspects of the project online so more schools will be able to interact and participate so watch this space!!
If you would like to read more about the project, please see the following link for the Biochemical Society final report…
The A level Biology students of South Sefton College, Litherland visited the Institute of Integrative Biology at the University of Liverpool last month. This is a guest post from their teacher, Matthew Roberts:
We were shown the cutting edge facilities at the Centre for Cell Imaging. These included laser confocal and light-sheet microscopes that were being used to view a live fish egg, which was fascinating for the students as they have only experienced microscopy with dead specimens. The fact that the visiting group was small allowed experts in their field to talk to the students. The academics were really good at linking these imaging techniques to the A level microscopy to help the students understand.
The final microscope that we were shown was a laser microscope with a tremendously high resolution, the highest resolution available at this current moment in science. The students were very impressed to hear that there are probably only about two microscopes like this in the world and one is here in Liverpool!
We also went into the Centre for Genomics Research that was really relevant to what the students are going to be doing at A2 when they study genetic engineering and DNA sequencing. It really was inspiring for the students to see real equipment and hear about projects using it.
This visit gave the students a real insight into what studying Biological Sciences is like at the University of Liverpool and where it could take them. The staff could not have been more helpful. I would definitely recommend this to other A level Biology teachers who would like to inspire their students to take their subject beyond A level. I will definitely be booking this again for my students next year.
By Luciane V. Mello
One way we can contribute to young people’s enthusiasm for science is by working with their teachers, e.g. through continuing professional development schemes like STEM Insight.
Last February in partnership with the Biochemical Society we received Maria Saeed, from Blackburn College, for her Insight into University experience placement.
The week was a great experience and I am now putting into practice what I have learnt. For example, I am working on developing a numeracy skills pack for all learners, and I am hoping to do several practical sessions in the same format I saw at the university that worked very well… I believe the scheme has been invaluable in developing my own teaching practice and the links between the college and Liverpool University in the long-term.
I’m delighted to report that Maria Saeed was nominated for the ENTHUSE Further Education Award, an event organised by STEM Learning and the Wellcome Trust to recognise the impact that teachers and technicians have on their pupils, colleagues, schools, colleges and peers. I would like to thank all members of staff who helped me to offer Maria a wonderful experience during her week in the Department of Biochemistry (IIB) and in the School of Life Sciences: Amal Abdulkadir, Fabia Allen, Peter Alston, Andy Bates, Rob Beynon, Elaine Connor, Caroline Dart, Claire Eyers, Pat Eyers, Karen Fitzsimons, Blair Grubb, Phil Harrison, Keith Hatton, Joscelyn Sarsby, Jerry Turnbull, Susanne Voelkel and Mark Wilkinson.
A successful team work! We are now prepared for other teacher visits so if you are interested, get in touch.