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In Week 2 of this term, the Year 11 IB Biology class journeyed to the University of Melbourne to participate in a hands-on workshop run by the Genetics Faculty. While there, our students completed two investigations. In the first, students learnt how antibiotic resistance can be transferred between bacterial cells and how humans can use this process to transfer genes of interest. To determine if gene transfer was successful, students performed a gel electrophoresis. This involved each student loading up DNA samples into the gel and then running an electric current through the gel which then moved the DNA fragments according to size. The position of these fragments allowed students to determine if the gene transfer was successful.

In the second of our investigations, students explored the genetics of fruit flies – in particular, the inheritance of two types of wings; normal wings and vestigial (mutated) wings. This involved making the flies fall asleep before examining them under the microscope. Students counted flies from across different breeding generations to also determine the evolutionary trend of trait inheritance.

It was a fantastic afternoon for our senior Biology students as it allowed them to put into practice the theory being learnt in class while also giving them access to university equipment and laboratories. Students were also lead through the workshop by a current university student, who obligingly answered questions about their own pathways into science and current areas of study and research.

by Claire Stanner, Science and Biology Teacher