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Science Festival: Biology Takes Main Stage

Teacher Mrs Sue Lowe with A level Biology students.

Notre Dame’s students were lucky enough to get involved with the 2019 Leeds Festival of Science.

Running throughout March, the Leeds Festival of Science offers a wide range of events for the public, as well as a programme of activities for schools and colleges. It aims to provide fun opportunities for people to engage with science and technology. This year, it will ‘showcase plate tectonics, interactive space toys and the funny side of climate change’. Hosting the events are the University of Leeds, Leeds City Museum, Lotherton, and Café Scientifique.

It was the University of Leeds that treated our A level Biology students to two visiting roadshows. On 11 March, 18 students took part in an interactive and inspiring How Do We Use DNA? session. This focused on gel electrophoresis, which scientists all over the world use to explore DNA. Our students used electrophoresis to diagnose patients at high risk of developing breast cancer. They looked for a lack of BRAC1 and BRAC2 tumour suppressor genes.

On 12 March, another 20 students attended Playing Dice with Epidemics. This session explored how we can use mathematics and computer programmes to simulate real-life epidemics. The students used a video game called Hospital Infections. They had to work out how long an epidemic would last and how to organise hospital wards to limit its spread.

Upper sixth student Fran Alexander-Guthrie commented that, ‘The electrophoresis workshop was enjoyable, useful and gave me the opportunity to complete a practical that we wouldn’t do in college.’ Her peer Joy Bromley added, ‘The epidemics workshop was challenging but it was interesting to see how maths could be applied to biology.’

To find out more about the Festival, please visit the University of Leeds website here.