Secondary school students in a lab coat using a pipette

If you have been following us recently, you will know that we've been working with a biotechnology company in Oxford to help GCSE students who are interested in science to learn more about the biotech industry and the careers involved within it. Last week students from Calthorpe Park School had their turn at visiting the company and their labs.

First off, they presented their biotech worksheets that they had been working through during the term, alongside their designs for their ice cream packaging and marketing material. They were quizzed by representatives from Green Biologics and it was fun to see their interesting ideas come to life. 

The CTO of Green Biologics then explained how their project related to the company's work and this understanding was furthered by a lab tour where they got to see the equipment used and understand how their Biology and Chemistry GCSE knowledge was used in the real world. 

After a quick break the students then paired off to do some lab work with members of the company who spend their day working in the lab. One group looked at the best ways to make apple juice by using enzymes to break down their cell walls. More specifically, they looked at how each enzyme performed and which were the best enzymes to use.

The second group looked at bacteria under the microscope and ways in which they could heat shock the bacteria to introduce DNA. The third group looked at the makeup of DNA visualised its fragments using agarose gel electrophoresis where an electric current is used to spread out the DNA molecules.

On finishing their lab work, they then had to present what they had learnt to other employees and their teacher, and I was impressed with how much effort they put in in a very short space of time.

Before we left, students were then tasked to play a quick game which involved a number of staff members explaining their jobs to the students with the students having to decide what was the job title of each member of staff. They were given cards with the job titles on them, but to make things harder had more cards than there were staff members.  

One of the students said that she’d learnt more on the lab visit than she had at a whole week at school, which was lovely to hear!

If you want to find out more about the Biotech Challenge and other challenges we run in schools, here are all the details

Secondary school students in a lab coat using a pipette

Lab work.


Secondary school students discussing laminated career ideas

Trying to figure out which job title relates to which employee. 


Secondary school students and employees talking around a meeting room table

Planning their presentations with a little help from staff. 


Secondary school students presenting in front of others

Giving their presentations on their lab work. 


Secondary school students in a lab asking a microbiologist questions

Making decisions in the lab.