On Monday, biology students at Mount Baker Secondary had a chance to learn a little about genomics, the study of the function and structure of genomes – complete sets of DNA within a cell.
The Genome BC Geneskool program is a free workshop that is touring Cranbrook, Jaffray and Fernie classrooms this week. Scientists from UBC’s Let’s Talk Science program presented the students with the genomics basics and then let them loose on a series of activities.
In the afternoon, students of teacher Bob Madell’s Grade 11 biology class were doing an activity about natural selection as part of the program. The class was split up into groups with each visiting an island signified by a table. On each table there was a different assortment of candies – smarties on one, gummy bears on the other – and each student had a different utensil to try to pick them up, including spoons, chopsticks and toothpicks which stood in for variations in bird’s beaks. Students had to pick up as many of the candies as they could with their given utensil. Depending on the island’s food source certain “beaks” would have a much bigger advantage than others and would gather up more food.
Sam Greenwood from Genome BC said the workshops are meant to make science fun and relevant for the students.
“We make sure to explain the scientific activities and how they can be applied in real life situations, and explore the potential applications and impact of genomic technologies on Canadian society,” Greenwood said. “Our aim is that after attending Genome BC Geneskool, students will continue to appreciate the value of science and math in today’s knowledge-based economy.”
The workshop also sees students participate in solving a mock murder mystery using genomics techniques along with suspect interrogation reports from a fake crime.
Genome BC is supported by the Province of British Columbia, the Government of Canada through Genome Canada and Western Economic Diversification Canada.