U of Guelph Students Talk Science with High Schoolers

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From solving a “murder mystery” to exploring cancer genetics, hundreds of high school students will get a close-up look at molecular and cellular biology during a Let’s Talk Science event to be held at the University of Guelph Dec. 7.

Nearly 50 U of G student volunteers and faculty members will showcase the University of Guelph’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB).

The event is expected to attract up to 350 Grade 11 and 12 students.

They will attend a scientist’s lecture and research talks by graduate students, and sign up for one of five hands-on labs in molecular biology, cellular biology, plant biology, microbiology and biochemistry.

“MCB is a very complex field, and we want the students to realize the breadth of this discipline and the diversity of opportunities within it,” said population medicine PhD student Alexandra Swirski, one of the student organizers.

She said visitors will get a look at current and innovative research in MCB. They will use a popular molecular technique called gel electrophoresis to solve a “murder mystery,” and look at how genes can change plant structure or lead to cancer.

Swirski said the visit will allow students to use equipment beyond the budget of most high schools and to learn about science career prospects.

The event allows U of G volunteers to share their interests in science and inspire young students.

“Research has shown that students don’t continue with science because they don’t realize why it is relevant to them,” said Swirski.

“I think that science outreach can change this view, and make science fun and exciting. This is an opportunity for high school students to learn high-tech, cutting-edge science and discover the intricacies of research.”