The Benefit Of Experience

Posted by @Grefintec on 6th November 2016 in Reflective Blog |

This week I taught a lesson where we compared light microscopy with electron microscopy and I used some of the micrograph images I had taken during my time as a research scientist. When I was planning the lesson I didn’t think anything of it, I had the images, why not use them? However, when I came to deliver the lesson the level of engagement, simply because I had been the photographer and had used electron microscopes as part of my work was amazing. I I had brought something extra to lesson, introducing real life experience of what it is like to work as a biologist.

At first glance, you may assume that someone who specialised in a niche as small as aquatic immunology would only have a limited amount of related experience to add to studies in ‘general’ biology. However, the opposite is true, because the niche is so small I had to be a master of all trades. I worked in a variety of laboratories including: radiation, genetics, vaccine, bacteriology, parasitology and nutrition. I did everything from make monoclonals, collect and purify bacteria, artificial insemination, use light, electron and confocal microscopes, carry out data analysis, plan and carry out experimental studies, PCR, SDS-PAGE, immunological assays eg ELISA, lysozyme, NBT respiratory burst. I worked as a flow cytometry technician during the final year of my PhD. I supervised BSc and MSc projects and presented work at multi-national conferences. The list continues!

In A-Level biology there is a unit on monoclonals, I imagine that there are not many biology teachers who have actually made them themselves!

Pupils looking at micrographs for the first time, especially with knowledge that I had taken the photographs myself generated a lot of interest and engagement in the topic, it really helped to make the lesson a success. This continued with the following lesson where a class of year 7’s were introduced to the topic of pathogens and were literally open mouthed when I told them that I had made vaccines before.

The fact that I have worked as a biologist and am able to share what I did as part of my lessons increases pupils engagement in their learning in a way that I really had not anticipated. I feel like I have won the lottery!

Streak plate of the gram negative bacteria Flavobcterium psychrophilum

Streak plate of the gram negative bacteria Flavobacterium psychrophilum

 

Flavobacterium psychrophilum viewed under light microscope

Flavobacterium psychrophilum viewed under light microscope

 

Flavobacterium psychrophilum viewed under transmission electron microscope

Flavobacterium psychrophilum viewed under transmission electron microscope

 

Flavobacterium psychrophilum viewed under scanning electron microscope

Flavobacterium psychrophilum viewed under scanning electron microscope

 

Biofilm of Flavobacterium psychrophilum

Biofilm of Flavobacterium psychrophilum viewed under scanning electron microscope

 

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