STEM Uni visit

Preparing students for higher education with extra learning experiences to stretch and challenge them are part of the curriculum at Alton College. A group of A level Biology students visited the University of Southampton’s Maths and Science Learning Centre for a gene technology day. Students were offered the opportunity to use a thermal cycler to carry out PCR (polymerase chain reaction, a technique used in molecular biology to amplify a single copy or a few copies of a segment of DNA across several orders of magnitude, generating thousands to millions of copies of a particular DNA sequence) and analyse samples using gel electrophoresis to develop and practice the competencies and practical skills needed for the Common Practical Assessment Criteria (CPAC) at A level. All of the groups were successful in genetically modifying E. coli to express the pGLO gene. (pGLO is an engineered plasmid used in biotechnology as a vector for creating genetically modified organisms.)  They were also able to visit the university’s Life Sciences laboratories to meet researchers, observe techniques carried out in an authentic Higher Education environment, and be inspired by engaging with cutting edge research at a leading Russell Group University.

Hazel Hobbs, previously at Weydon School said: "The gene biology trip to Southampton University was a really good opportunity! I made new friends and the experiments helped to solidify my understanding of the theory from certain Biology modules. It has helped me to decide choices for universities for my UCAS application, and see what lab equipment is used. I would recommend the trip to anyone who's given the opportunity."

To find out more about studying Biology here.