School children examining crabs
Children from Willand Primary School finding out more about crabs.
School children in the lab
Children in the laboratory.
School children making gunge
Children making slime in the lab!
School children examining crabs
Finding out about crabs from our coastline.

Our work with schools and colleges

Our workshops

We have a number of workshops which we are able to run for school groups visiting the University, and on occasion we can take the workshop to your school. If you are interested in any of these workshops please contact Dr Nicky King.

Year 12/13 – DNA and Gene Technology

Spend a day in the Biosciences teaching lab where you will extract a sample of your own DNA from a buccal swab; isolate, purify and replicate the sample via PCR before analysing your DNA via gel electrophoresis. Students will get the chance to use state of the art equipment and undertake an undergraduate level investigation. This will be supported by a talk on the use of gene technologies in the latest Bioscience research.

Workshop length – 5 hours

Year 12/13 – Evolution and Extinction

This workshop gives students the opportunity to investigate the predator-prey relationship and competition between species through a simulation and subsequent analysis. Students will explore themes within evolution and the adaptation of species to environment.
As part of the Darwin Day celebrations in February 2009 we visited Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester where the students made a short film about the workshop.

Workshop length – 2 hours

Year 12/13 – Organic Synthesis and Characterisation

This workshop supports the A-level chemistry syllabus to enable the students to synthesise a range of simple organic molecules and use techniques such as NMR, IR and UV/visible spectroscopies to characterise the products. We will also talk to students about the development of novel drugs and therapies through synthetic chemistry.

Workshop length – 4 hours

Year 10/11 – Spectroscopy in a Suitcase

This Royal Society of Chemistry designed workshop introduces the students to the key principles of spectroscopy and how spectroscopic techniques can be used in forensic science. The students undertake an experiment to determine the levels of aspirin from a suspicious death and learn about the importance of accuracy in analytical chemistry.

Workshop length – 1.5 hours

Year 10/11 – Climate Change

This joint event between Biosciences and Geography will look at our understanding of climate change and ways in which climate change has an impact on the world around us. The day will be split into four separate workshops: Evidence for climate change; how can human societies tackle climate change? Threats to our oceans; and How species adapt to their changing environment.

Workshop length – 4 hours

Year 10/11 – Green Plastics

This Royal Society of Chemistry designed workshop introduces students to green chemistry, the need to change to a more sustainable society and the issue of fossil fuels versus bio-plastics. Students will undertake the synthesis of a bio-plastic and the analysis of a number of commercially produced green plastics.

Workshop length – 3 hours

Year 9 – Infectious Diseases

Students will be given a comprehensive introduction to microbiological risks and safety and then will spend time in the laboratory undertaking an enzyme screen to identify pathogenic bacteria for diagnosis of disease, followed by an investigation into the effect of bleach as an antimicrobial agent. This can be followed by a talk about emerging disease resistant microbes and alternative therapies.

Workshop length – 4 hours

Year 9 – Dragons Den: the Bird Flu Pandemic

This workshop looks at how biological research can be used to solve real world problems and make money. Students will be asked to prepare a Dragons Den-style pitch to demonstrate how their innovation is the answer to the panic surrounding an outbreak of bird flu.

Workshop length – 2.5 hours

For Primary Schools – Hands-on Science

This day of practical science for year 4 will give children the opportunity to do experiments they would not be able to do in school.

Session 1: Chemistry is fun!

The children will be making slime and silly putty and finding out about the properties that make polymers useful. Lots of fun and mess guaranteed! They will also investigate the differences between solids, liquids and gases with a series of exciting demonstrations.

Session 2: Explore Biology

The children will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with crabs and other marine organisms, observe and pick them up, watch their behaviour and examine closely their movement and how they are adapted to their environment. They will also look at zebra fish embryos to see the changes taking place as they develop.

Workshop length – 4 hours