University of Leicester eBulletin

10,000 Equipment Donated to Help Train Tomorrow's Teachers

March 2002

No 63

student demonstrating equipment IN THE RIGHT HANDS: The University of Leicester School of Education gets 10,000 worth of specialist scientific equipment to help train a new generation of teachers

Hi-tech biotechnology equipment has been donated by Pfizer and Bio-Rad as part of a National Year of Science project. This is part of a national initiative in which Pfizer and Bio-Rad have joined forces to install 300,000 worth of hi-tech biotechnology equipment in 31 teacher-training institutions in the UK. 

PGCE Biology tutor Jenny Harrison, of the School of Education, said: "This new equipment has already enabled hands-on practical training for Biology and Science student teachers. Benefits have already extended to some teachers of partner schools in Leicester City, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire through in-service training.

"The project will be extended to include a loan scheme of the hardware, with schools making the necessary purchases of the consumables directly from Bio-Rad. Each set of equipment can be used to conduct four modern biotechnology practicals for 25 students at a time. These are: DNA Fingerprinting, Bacterial Transformation (genetically altering bacteria with a bioluminescent jellyfish gene), purification of a useful protein, and the Nobel Prize winning technique Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). The practicals are aimed at Post-16 Biology students and are all linked to current examination specifications."

Ms Harrison said that there had been a very positive response to the workshops that had been put on using the new equipment.

John Adams, Academic Liaison Manager at Pfizer, has said, "The benefits of this joint venture will reach hundreds of students of all ages," and added, "We hope that this project will help improve their level of science education, and encourage them to look seriously at considering science as a viable and interesting career".

Dr Dominic Delaney, BioEducation Project Manager at Bio-Rad Laboratories, agrees that this opportunity will hopefully encourage students to seek careers in science: "This is a bold and innovative project which will make a significant and long lasting impact on the way biology is taught in the UK."

Under the auspices of the national 'Science Year' programme, this donation can be seen in a much wider context. Professor Nigel Paine, Director of Science Year said: ''A core part of Science Year is to bring science in the real world into schools so that young people can get a sense of what working in science is really like, and taste the discovery and excitement of exploration. This Bio-Rad/Pfizer initiative is an important contribution to that process.''

Jenny Harrison is currently exploring with Bio-Rad the possibility of funding an evaluation project to monitor the particular impact on school students of these practical activities.

NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For more information, contact Jenny Harrison, School of Education, Lecturer in Education and Biology/Science PGCE tutor, telephone 0116 252 3673.

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Last updated: Date 2002
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