Year 10 students at Mater Maria Catholic College Warriewood recently competed in a biotechnology project through the Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE).
The ABE is an innovative science education programme that allows secondary school students to create biotechnology therapies and loans secondary school teachers research-grade equipment and supplies at no cost.
Students were shown how to use the equipment and trained in basic techniques before inserting a genetically modified piece of DNA (a plasmid) containing a gene from a sea anemone into a bacteria. This plasmid caused the bacteria to glow a fluorescent red. The students then observed the bacteria as it began to express the sea anemone gene.
Teacher Susan Senior said, “I hoped to inspire students to pursue science in Year 11 and 12 and then go onto university to have a career in science after seeing the types of things you can do with scientific research.”
Mrs Senior also said that one of the teachers at the school had a three-year-old daughter who was receiving medical treatment developed using the same techniques as students used in the project.
Leah Brown, a student in the class, said that she was inspired to choose the genetic engineering experiment. “I was amazed to see how this could lead to paths of genetic engineering in medicine.”
Edgar Murga Gardia de Leon, another student, said that “It was interesting and engaging, I learned a lot doing this and most importantly I had fun.”