Schoolchildren discover power of genetics at University of Leicester

Posted by ap507 at Sep 10, 2018 12:02 PM |
From discovering dead kings to solving murders - 600 schoolchildren learn how science changes lives

Issued by University of Leicester on 10 September 2018

Hundreds of schoolchildren will turn into super sleuths at the University of Leicester using genetics to crack codes and unravel mysteries.

A ‘whodunit’ riddle will challenge the youngsters from Leicestershire and beyond when they learn to use DNA techniques to solve a riddle and find a murderer.

From the invention of DNA fingerprinting to the identification of King Richard III, genetics is a key strength at the University of Leicester. Now a new generation of genetic hunters are to be inspired by the world-class expertise of the University.

600 Year 9 schoolchildren and their teachers are expected to descend on the University on September 12 and 13 for Dynamic DNA 2018. This is the biggest public engagement event organised by the College of Life Sciences at the University.

Cas Kramer, the College’s Head of Public Engagement, said: “Enthusing the next generation of geneticists is the responsibility of GENIE  - our Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning which every year runs a Dynamic DNA event for year nine pupils from local schools.

“On each of two days in September, 300 young scientists are led through a series of fun and fascinating activities that open up the world of genetics and hopefully plant a few seeds of interest that will bloom in future years.

“Co-ordinating and running Dynamic DNA is a big task which involves 80 of our staff and students. Not just our academics and lab technicians but also undergraduates and postgraduates who benefit from the day by gaining valuable science communication experience. Some of these University of Leicester students may go on to be science teachers – and some of the pupils who attended the event may go on to be University of Leicester students.”

The day starts with a short, entertaining lecture from one of our academics which sets the scene and outline the basics of how genes work. After that, there are up to 25 activities available, exploring every aspect of the subject, including:

  • DNA Detective: using DNA fingerprinting to solve a riddle and find a murderer
  • One in a Million: looking for simple genetic traits like tongue-rolling that, taken cumulatively, add up to an individual
  • Jurassic Genes: finding out whether we could actually get DNA from a fossil
  • Ready, Set Race: studying disease by racing fruit flies
  • Go Bananas: extracting DNA from fruit (lab coat required – likely to get messy!)

Over the course of the day, the junior geneticists learn about cloning and chromosomes, the importance of mutations, the double helix structure of DNA  - and of course how to identify dead monarchs.

Dynamic DNA, which has been running since 2006, is just one of numerous schools outreach activities organised at the University of Leicester every year, spreading our mission to foster enquiring minds beyond our campus to the young people of Leicester and Leicestershire.

Ends

NOTES TO EDITORS:

For more information, please contact Dr Cas Kramer on ck53@le.ac.uk

 

 

 

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