Biology students test new equipment for Snowdrop DNA project

On Monday 8 January, twenty-four Enrichment students, who have been working on the Snowdrop DNA project, conducted several experiments using micropipettes, microcentrifuge and gel electrophoresis systems purchased through the support of the Local Skills Improvement Fund grant.

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Equipment purchased through the Local Skills Improvement Fund grant

Local Skills Improvement Fund provides outstanding equipment for biology students

This equipment was recently purchased through the support of the Local Skills Improvement Fund grant which aims to enable collaborations between further education colleges and training providers to meet the needs of various employers identified in an area’s Local Skills Improvement Plan.

The College has used part of the grant to enable Biology students to gain valuable experience in industry-wide research techniques. This will equip all our Biology A level students with the knowledge, skills and practical experience that are widely used in the biomedical and life science industries, which are so vital to our local community and economy.

Principal Jo Trump and Assistant Principal Ian Pryer visited this enrichment class to talk to students about this exciting project and inspect the incredible range of equipment that arrived at the lab. Students were quick to train staff with the new equipment, which they have previously had experience with, to enable them to get hands-on with some of the experiments.

It was fantastic to see and hear the passion that these students have for this project, the equipment that they are now able to use and the overall subject matter. Students will continue to research and experiment on Snowdrop DNA over the coming months, where they will continue to learn an array of practical skills relevant to the workplace and the career paths that are available to them in this field.

It’s been fantastic to watch the evolution of this project this year and to hear the students talking about their experiences with scientists working in the genome space was fantastic: their enthusiasm was infectious, and I learnt so much from them. It’s wonderful to see and hear their expertise and confidence in handling this equipment and to see their progress. To know that we can provide students with the sort of laboratory and technical experiences they will encounter as fully-fledged scientists as a result of this project is a great thrill.

Jo Trump, Principal

We are delighted to have secured monies through the Local Skills Improvement Fund to support our Biology department to prepare students for careers with local biomedical and life science employers. We wanted to use the funding to build on the way that we prepare our students for careers and higher education study in key local sectors such as science and technology, digital and green sectors. The funding for this project has enabled us to provide all of our A Level biologists with the opportunity to access electrophoresis, which we know is a commonly used technique in research science.

Ian Pryer, Assistant Principal

The LSIF grant for this equipment will allow all of our Hills Road Biology students the chance to carry out molecular biology techniques using research-grade equipment. It is so exciting to see students becoming confident in accurately dispensing small quantities using micropipetting and separation of differently sized DNA molecules using gel electrophoresis. Having a vortex to mix samples and microcentrifuge to pool samples is incredibly helpful too when working with such small quantities of biological material. Purchase of this molecular biology kit enables us to develop student skills relevant to the plethora of life science organisations in our area and introduce natural segue into possible career paths (backed up by the amazing talk programmes that Ian runs in lunchtimes, enrichments like the snowdrop DNA project and other projects!)

Dr Karen Stephens

We’re thrilled to hear that Hills Road have been sucessful in securing funding for their state of the art molecular biology equipment. Micropipetting and gel electrophoresis are technologies used in the laboratory every day for making new discoveries to solve the health and societal challenges we face today. Molecular biology skills underpin much of the work at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and wider Wellcome Genome Campus where more than 2600 staff work in genomics and biodata. The Cambridge region is hot spot for lifesciences and technology careers and as a large employer in the area, the Sanger Institute are delighted that students can engage with technical skills from an early stage in their scientific careers and exploring opportunities to work in the sector. We hope these young scientists will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in science and potentially reshape how we diagnose, treat and prevent illness in future.

Julia Wilson, Associate Director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute