Sally Lin explains DNA and its role in life at Prince Rupert Middle School.

Sally Lin explains DNA and its role in life at Prince Rupert Middle School.

Geneskool visits the North Coast

Prince Rupert continues to be situated on the Lower Mainland's radar as a place for science-based organizations to share their expertise.

Prince Rupert continues to be situated firmly on the Lower Mainland’s radar as a place for science-based organizations to come and share their expertise.

Shortly after the Vancouver Aquarium’s AquaVan made a visit to Northwest Community College and the schools in Prince Rupert earlier in September, Genome British Columbia’s Geneskool made a few presentations to Prince Rupert Middle School (PRMS) students last Tuesday.

“What we do is we go to different middle schools and high schools and just talk to the students about some of the basic concepts like … DNA and … inheritable traits and using fun, hands-on activities,” said Sally Lin, one of Genome BC’s Geneskool scientist presenters and University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Let’s Talk Science program.

PRMS received six unique presentations from Lin and her Let’s Talk Science partner, each tailored to different age groups.

“[The presentations] switch between grades. They’re all age-appropriate and whatever’s most interesting to the age group,” Lin added.

Genome BC explores the world of genomics and genetics and manages a portfolio of 254 research projects and science and technology platforms. Genome BC works with governments, universities, and industry in sectors like forestry, fisheries, agriculture, the environment, bioenergy, mining and human health. Their goal is to generate social and economic benefits for B.C. and Canada.

Its Geneskool program travels throughout B.C. with “nowhere too far or too small to visit”. Exhibits are very portable and are shipped across the province to help teachers enhance their current curriculum with hands-on items.

In one of the morning classes, Lin showed a PRMS class how to create different bees from pipe cleaners and each student created a different bee, showing the diversity of DNA reproduction.

“We’re showing them how mutations in the DNA process can make some crazy looking bees,” Lin said, adding that an earlier Grade 8 class got to work with ‘alien babies’.

“We had a couple classes this morning and they went real fast, but the kids loved it. They were really into it and we also got them to make edible DNA. One of the classes finished early, so we gave them some marshmallows and licorice. They got to make models of the DNA,” she said.

“Molecular biology is an integral part of our natural world. The Genome BC Geneskool program offers students a chance to use advanced laboratory technology and techniques to see the tiny world that exists at the microbial level while learning, having fun and garnering a greater appreciation of the world around us,” said vice-president of communications and education at Genome BC, Sally Greenwood.