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Workshop Idea: A-Level Genetics

Date Posted: 13/09/2014

Nowgen, based in Manchester, has developed a series of school workshops focussing on genetics and biomedicine, suitable for A-Level students.

Its flagship workshop is A Question of Taste; a well-established post-16 workshop that has proven popular with students and teachers alike.

Students use research-quality equipment to learn about important techniques, such as the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and electrophoresis. They work alongside active researchers and learn about the way new discoveries are made.

Previously it has run a Hands-on Molecular Genetics workshop which had similar practical components, but considered some of the implications of contemporary genetics research on medicine.

Hands-on DNA: Bacterial Evolution was a Key Stage 4 workshop developed as part of the Hands-on DNA project.

The A Question of Taste workshop can be booked by schools from January to April and takes place in Nowgen’s teaching lab at The Nowgen Centre, Manchester.

A Question of Taste: Using PCR to investigate human evolution

A Question of Taste workshop lets students investigate how humans and chimpanzees evolved to taste a particular chemical.

Some students realise that they can’t taste a bitter chemical, whilst others can. By the end of the day the changes in the DNA that influence this characteristic are revealed.

Students examine and analyse their own DNA as they discover more about evolution and how genetics helps us understand evolution.

The workshop includes:

•    Extraction of students’ DNA
•    PCR
•    Restriction digestion
•    Gel electrophoresis
•    Analysis of DNA bands
•    Bioinformatics activities
•    Facilitated discussion incorporating How Science Works concepts

A Question of Taste is suitable for up to 25 students, and lasts for a whole-day between 10am and 3pm, with a lunch break at around midday.

It is usually led by PhD students studying at The University of Manchester.

Testimonials: here's what some teachers have to say about Nowgen's workshops

“Allowed our students to be stretched beyond the specification, learning about bioinformatics and the human genome.”

“Gave me the opportunity to use advanced equipment and techniques and apply knowledge in a new way.”

Further resources

Nowgen has a wide range of resources suitable for school students and teachers.

Videos are available on the influence of genes on common diseases such as eczema; lesson plans around the role of nature and nurture, and documents with a policy focus, such as how and why Genomics should be taught in the classroom.

For more information contact:

0161-276 5956

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