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Dornoch Academy lab science pupils are 'DNA detectives'


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Nerri Powell and Lucy Maclennan diluting buffer solutions for DNA electrophoresis.
Nerri Powell and Lucy Maclennan diluting buffer solutions for DNA electrophoresis.

Pupils from the National 5 lab science class at Dornoch Academy demonstrated their practical skills when they attended a DNA profiling workshop at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus next to the Roslin Institute earlier this month.

The Roslin Institute is known for cloning "Dolly the Sheep" 25 years ago, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.

The school took part in a skills lab project with seven other schools across Scotland with the aim of engaging pupils in the most deprived areas, as well as learners in rural communities. The workshop involved pupils solving a mystery involving an escaping sheep.

Hazel Lyon and Hannah Graham loading DNA samples into agarose gel wells using micropipettes.
Hazel Lyon and Hannah Graham loading DNA samples into agarose gel wells using micropipettes.

The students analysed fleece samples, poured agarose gels, diluted buffer solutions, and performed DNA gel electrophoresis to determine which sheep was escaping from a farmer’s field.

The pupils also met scientists from the Roslin Institute, visited their labs and discussed the practical work they had done in class with their teacher Dr Allan, in which they separated and analysed plant pigments using resources provided by the Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre (EBSOC) from a previous visit to the school.

Jayne Quoiani, an education and engagement officer, said, "We very much enjoyed working with Dr Allan and his pupils and colleagues over the past few months.

"Working with school pupils living in rural areas of Scotland is important to us as a higher education and research organisation.

"While geographically Dornoch is far from Edinburgh, our interests in animal health and agriculture bring us together. I hope that we have conveyed the message that science is for everyone."

Nerri Powell taking an image of her DNA gel electrophoresis results.
Nerri Powell taking an image of her DNA gel electrophoresis results.

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