A Level Biologists visit the Centre for Life

by Jessica Bouron, Bethany Thompson and Kate Taylor, Year 13

As part of our A-level biology course, we attended a workshop run by Newcastle University at the Centre for Life. We were able to carry out in small groups an experiment which used techniques we had studied in class. We analysed our own DNA using PCR and gel electrophoresis for a gene which allows some of us to taste a bitter chemical called PTC (commonly found in vegetables such as cabbages and Brussel sprouts). The interactive nature of the practical helped us get a better understanding of the topic and how it can link to real world scenarios and current scientific research. We also spent some time discussing potential reasons for patterns in the number of non-tasters in different areas, which is still currently being questioned and investigated.  This also gave us the chance to develop key practical skills using equipment which isn’t available at school. For those of us applying to science-based degrees, it was a great opportunity to get an insight into how experiments are carried out at a university level.