On Monday 23rd September, 20 Year 7 and 8 students had the special opportunity to take part in a day long event run by the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics. In the morning, five researchers, Magda Mareckova, Lydia Coxon, Hanna Nazri, Danielle Perro, and Camilla Ip, ran a series of presentations and activities exploring the importance of DNA and RNA in medical research.
Students were initially introduced to the make-up of DNA, before being able to make DNA models themselves. They then learned how to sequence DNA, and were able to explore the difference between single cell and group cell sampling through a smoothie tasting activity!
They then learned from the researchers about the disease endometriosis, which affects 1 in 10 women, but which is frequently slow to diagnose. Students took part in a cell clustering activity to help show them the sort of work the researchers perform in order to improve diagnosis for this disease. This was then rounded up with a short discussion on research in medicine.
Just before lunch time, Dr Robert Esnouf arrived to introduce how neural networks are used in biomedical research. Students were given an overview on how computers work, where they were able to dismantle some computers to find key parts. They then had a session on binary counting before a break for lunch.
When they returned, they learned about artificial intelligence, and how neural networks functioned. They were then able to construct a simple neural network which could answer questions on fruit and football team classification!
We are very grateful indeed to the researchers and academics who came to spend the day with our Year 7s and 8s, and ran such fascinating sessions, which made a brilliant introduction to our Rumble Museum Future Season. The Wellcome Centre will be running activities at our Festival of the Future on 25th March, where visitors will be able to find out more about their important work in medicine.