Case Study


Year 8 students from around Cambridgeshire were invited to apply to take part in an Innovators-level Cambridge LaunchPad event with the Babraham Institute. For their application they were tasked to extract DNA from soft fruit, using a standard process that has been used in classrooms for over 10 years.

The teams from Swavesey Village College and Netherhall School that most impressed the judges with their project posters were then invited to attend a hands-on activity day at the world-leading Babraham Institute. The project day was designed and delivered by PhD students currently working at the Babraham Institute, giving the winning teams a fantastic opportunity to work in the laboratories and to learn the importance of STEM beyond the classroom. They tasked the students with routine lab procedures; polymerase chain reaction (PCR), used to amplify DNA, and agarose gel electrophoresis, used to separate DNA molecules based on size. Using these techniques, the students were  able to determine whether the DNA samples contained mutations of a particular gene.

Michael Hinton, Schools Outreach and Web Manager at the Babraham Institute, said:

“Launchpad was a great opportunity for us to develop new activities to showcase our enthusiasm for science with schools and demonstrated how much the Launchpad core values overlap with a career as a research scientist. It provided our PhD students with an effective framework to develop their skills in project planning, communication and schools outreach.”

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