VCE BIOLOGY Masterclasses

The start of 2022 has seen our lab here at KIOSC busy with Year 12 Biology students. For the past two years students have been denied excursions, so we are so excited to welcome them back on site. Our state-of-the-art lab enables us to deliver a future-forward Genetic Technologies program that complements the VCE Biology study design for Unit 3. Students use recombinant DNA technology to combine bacterial DNA with a human insulin gene. They then use a variety of genetic tools to confirm whether they were successful in combining the DNA. These tools are the same as those used in industry, which gives students hands-on, practical learning experiences. This process replicates the process used by pharmaceutical companies to produce human insulin using genetically-modified bacteria for people with Type I diabetes. This is an alternative to the historical way of sourcing insulin from cows and pigs, which has many ethical challenges.

Students use the Polymerase Chain Reaction machine to make large numbers of copies of their DNA samples. This is the same technique used in COVID-19 PCR testing. They also use a Gel Electrophoresis machine to run their DNA samples, which will separate pieces of DNA based on their size, and give students confirmational data as to whether or not they have successfully combined bacterial DNA with human DNA. Students will be returning for a Photosynthesis practical next term, and again in Term 3 to investigate the evolution of lemurs. We are thrilled to be able to offer so many enriching Biology experiences to students from all across Victoria.

By Lucy Anders: KIOSC Educator