Magis

Week 9 has been a spectacular end to the Magis year. On Tuesday and Wednesday I ran a workshop for 27 gifted Year 8 students from John XXlll College, Corpus Christi College and Newman College. The workshop was designed to explore the connections between ethics and science, in particular in relation to genetics. On the first day students received a crash course in Western philosophy leading into Catholic moral teaching, Kantian duty ethics and utilitarianism. Although the students were selected on the basis of their ability, I was still amazed at how quickly they understood the concepts and were able to apply them coherently to the ethical problems I gave them to solve in the afternoon. The sophistication of their thinking would be appropriate at tertiary level.

I was blessed to have Dr Amanda Webb to work with on this. Dr Webb brought her scientific wisdom to the workshop and ran a session to prepare students to work with pipettes. This knowledge was essential to their work on Day Two.

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On the second day we all met at the Harry Perkins Institute for Medical Research. There students built on their knowledge from the previous day to prepare cells on a slide that they viewed on a microscope.

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They also watched while scientists explained their work on stem cells and worked with the cells. They had a very steep learning curve about genetics, cells, stem cells and cancer research.

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Over the day many of the scientists commented on the level of student engagement and their ability. It was a joy to watch the students engage so intently in the work they were given. Needless to say, Dr Webb and I are planning more such workshops for 2015.

Dr Annette Pedersen
Magis & Ignatius Centre Coordinator