College Students Visit Liggins Institute

June 22, 2016 at 10:53 AM

With thanks to Biology teacher, Ms Suzie Tornquist

Last week, the Year 13 IB Biology class visited the Liggins Institute Classroom at the University of Auckland. The Liggins Institute is a world-class biomedical research institute named after Professor, Sir Graham Liggins, whose pioneering work showed how the use of steroids could enable premature new-born babies to breathe independently. The institute is one of the world’s leading centres for research on foetal and child health, growth and development and also in breast cancer, epigenetics and evolutionary medicine. The aims of the visit were to meet some of the scientists involved in research at the institute and to also get some hands-on practical experience using some scientific equipment specific to the biomedical world.

The practical experience presented in the programme helped the students to:

  • Develop an understanding of how the Polymerase Chain reaction (PCR) and Gel Electrophoresis are used to find out about whether genes are being turned on or off in different situations.
  • Gain hands-on experience in how to use micro-pipettes and perform PCR and Gel Electrophoresis.
  • Support their understanding of biological concepts.
  • Develop their understanding of what a scientific model is and why these are valuable in scientific research.
  • Develop an understanding of how scientists communicate their work, and collaborate within the scientific community.

The day was much enjoyed by the students who valued the relevance of the hands-on experience to their IB Biology Curriculum and in particular genetics. This topic of work looks at genetic modification including the PCR and Gel Electrophoresis techniques and how they can be used in biological applications.

The Liggins classroom presents a learning environment where hands-on practical work using medical instruments can be experienced as well interviewing scientists to explore the pathways a scientist can take and the importance of their research to the world.  

Unfortunately, after years of College students having access to this opportunity, the classroom visits will no longer be available to schools after 2016 due to a change in government funding. The education sector will miss the meaningful learning outside the classroom at this particular scientific institute. 

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