On 23 January, all fellow UVI Form Biologists participated in the DNA Molecular Workshop Day. It was one of the opportunities that many would have been looking forward to since the start of term, as many of us enjoy solving mysteries. The objective of the DNA Day was to solve a mystery (imaginary of course!) murder, by comparing DNA samples.
We started solving our mystery by amplifying the original DNA sample, using PCR, which took around an hour. After PCR, we set up the electrophoresis (which works similarly to chromatography, allowing us to compare DNA fragments of different suspects, by comparing it to the sample at the “crime scene”).
Finally, we carried out Southern Blotting to highlight the DNA fragments with stains. This helped us to see it more clearly before distaining it, so that it could be seen on a white light board, which allows us to see DNA as dark blue bands, permitting us to discover who was the murderer!
Although no suspects have been “arrested” at the end, based on our evidence, what we learnt was much more valuable than finding out who the murderer was. The DNA Molecular Workshop Day was not only a fun day, in which we got to enjoy applying our knowledge from the A Level/Higher course on gene sequencing, but also broadened our horizons on the many potentials that gene sequencing could take on, from forensic science to paternity testing. Moreover, we also got the chance to practice our laboratory skills, such as using micropipettes, which are useful and practical skills to have. For the biologists who are interested in continung their study in a Science related degree, or even in agricultural fields, this was great preparation for our future careers. Such opportunities are rare, given that not many pupils have the chance to work with a PCR machine before studying a university degree.
Last but not least, we should dedicate our thanks to Mrs Ryan, Biology Technician, for organising the apparatus required, and also to Ms Williams, Head of Biology, Mr George and Mr Lieberman for delivering their knowledge to us regarding the procedures, and enhancing our understanding for the interlinks between the exam syllabus and the experiment itself.
Hayden, UVI Form