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Researchers from Lancaster University visited our school to help inspire the next generation of scientists.

Pupils at our sixth form (ag6) got to try their hand at a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a process used to produce copies of a DNA segment, as part of the university’s Research in a Box programme.

Two researchers from Lancaster University demonstrated the technique, which is widely used in biological and medical research to help identify pathogens during infections and to generate forensic DNA profiles, to Year 13 students.

Research in a Box scheme is a loanable kit aimed at GCSE and A-Level students to help inspire the next generation of researchers and help the transition for pupils from school to university.

It is the first time that the sessions have been held in East Lancashire.

During the session Year 13 students used specialist equipment to perform a polymerase chain reaction, including micro pipettes which are used for working with precise volumes of liquid.

Catherine Baxendale, Research and Engagement Officer at Lancaster university said: “We have developed PCR in a box for students to experience the technical equipment and resources that would not normally be open to them in schools.

“By being involved in “Research in a Box” and engaging with teachers and students during school visits such as the recent visit to Alder Grange, our researchers get an opportunity to step back from their research and see their research through the students’ eyes.”

Teacher Mr Boyle said: “It was a great opportunity for the pupils to learn about current biology research from the people who do it every day.

“They had the chance to use the most up to date techniques and equipment from two very experienced scientists and communicators. It brought the syllabus to life for the students.”

Student Cerys Sims, 18, said: “I think the session did give a good insight into biology as the two people running it gave lots of good explanations and examples. At the end of the session I felt I had a better understanding of the topic.”

 

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