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  • Writer's pictureSt. Malachy's College

Year 13 Biology students go all ‘CSI’ on a trip to W5

Gareth Cairns and David McAreavey analysing their DNA..JPG

Twenty-nine Year 13 Biology students had the opportunity to take part in a unique workshop focusing on DNA at W5 this week. Students were able to try out techniques commonly applied in the field of Forensic Science.

Dr. Roberts (Head of Biology) outlined the inherent value of this visit when he noted that ‘the practical aspects of DNA are almost impossible to teach in a school science laboratory because the equipment and chemicals are so expensive’. Therefore, this timely workshop afforded students at the College the rare chance to sample and analyse their own DNA – the genetic material that codes for traits such as eye colour.

One activity the students were engaged with centred on the ability to taste a chemical called phenylthiocarbamide (PTC); a similar compound is found in the humble Brussels sprout, cauliflower and cabbage. It is extremely bitter to the taste which goes some way to explaining why so many people dislike these vegetables. In addition, Year 13 scientists explored how evolution may explain why some humans are unable to taste PTC at all (lucky them!).

All students involved found the workshop interesting and immensely useful as it aided their understanding of this complex topic on the AS course.

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