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University gives schools hands-on biology help

Posted on 20 February 2002

Science in York schools is to become more exciting and enjoyable thanks to the University of York as children are able to experiment with DNA fingerprinting and a Nobel Prize-winning technique which clones DNA.

The boost for schools comes as the University is being given biotechnology equipment worth £10,500 to help student teachers working in local schools run experiments for Key Stage 4 and post-16 students and to share those techniques with other teachers.

The work is linked to exam specifications and includes DNA fingerprinting, bacterial transformation using a jellyfish gene, purifying useful protein from living cells, and PCR, the Polymerase Chain Reaction, which has been called the 'genetic photocopier' and is used to clone large quantities of DNA from just a few pieces.

The University is one of 30 centres across the UK to be given the equipment by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Bio-Rad in a bid to encourage more youngsters to consider science as a career during national Science Year.

Professor Nigel Paine, Director of Science Year, said: "A core part of Science Year is to bring science in the real world into schools so that young people can get a sense of what working in science is really like, and taste the discovery and excitement of exploration."

Martin Braund of the University of York's Department of Educational Studies added: "This grant from Pfizer and Bio-Rad will provide examples of cutting-edge technology that schools might otherwise find difficult to fund. Pupils will be enthused and will learn how this science impacts on our everyday lives. Science education is key to sustaining innovation within research and development."

Local schools will be able to borrow the equipment from the University so that schoolchildren will get a real hands-on experience of professional-level equipment. The equipment includes microcentrifuges used for separating out DNA; electrophoresis tanks used in the identification of fingerprints; micropipettes and a PCR analyser.

Mr Braund added: "This is substantial equipment which no one school could afford to buy."

Notes to editors:

  • Schools involved in the scheme are: Barlby High School, Selby; Brayton High School, Selby; Selby High School; Harrogate Granby School, Harrogate; Garforth Community College, Garforth, Leeds; Boroughbridge High School, Boroughbridge

  • In York: All Saints; Archbishop Holgate's; Burnholme Community College; Fulford Comprehensive School; Canon Lee School,Clifton; Huntington School; Oaklands School Acomb; Joseph Rowntree School, New Earswick

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David Garner
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