Biology Excursion

Year 12 Biological Science students visited the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, where they spent their time using the same type of technologies that the medical researchers use in their laboratories.

The day was themed around cancer research, in particular melanoma and the BRAF gene which is one of the genes involved in some of the patients who develop melanoma. Students undertook 2 laboratory sessions, listened to a guest speaker and were lucky enough to meet the New Chief Scientist of Western Australia, Professor Peter Klinken.

In one session, the students were provided with a small amount of genetic material from patients with melanoma, and normal patients. This material was then amplified in a polymerase chain reactor to increase the amount of genetic material available, before separating out different sized fragments of this material by using gel electrophoresis. Finally the gels were examined and the results analysed. In this session, the John XXIII students were assisted by current PhD students from the Perkins Institute.

In the second session, ex-John XXIII Science teacher Louise Morony (nee Scharf) hosted an "Amazing Race". In this activity students simulated being PCR machines, while they created paper strands of DNA, hunted for information amongst the interactive displays and posters, attempted to assemble models of DNA and made their own presentations on the PCR process.

The afternoon concluded with a presentation by Clinton Heal from Melanoma WA, who established the foundation after he was diagnosed with Melanoma to raise awareness of this cancer. His presentation gave more of a purpose to the day's activities.