Students from Banjul American Embassy School (BAES) visit MRC Unit The Gambia

A small group of students from BAES who are engaged in characterising cell structures and performing experiments to determine the role of the cell wall and cell membrane, visited MRC Unit The Gambia (MRCG) on Thursday 17 November 2016. The purpose of the visit was to provide the grade 6/7 students with a realistic application of what they have been studying in their science classes on cell structure and function.Coordinated by Dr Anna Roca and Abdoulie Cham, the students and their teachers, visited the microbiology labs were Abdoulie Bojang and other members of the team taught them about ongoing research work on bacterial transmission at MRCG. The students had the opportunity to see the daily work in the microbiology lab and how the team was performing bacterial culture and antibiotic susceptibility testing. They were taught how to look at the microscope to differentiate bacteria with thick and thin cell wall (gram positive and gram negative bacteria) using gram staining.

baes001Coordinated by Dr Anna Roca and Abdoulie Cham, the students and their teachers, visited the microbiology labs were Abdoulie Bojang and other members of the team taught them about ongoing research work on bacterial transmission at MRCG. The students had the opportunity to see the daily work in the microbiology lab and how the team was performing bacterial culture and antibiotic susceptibility testing. They were taught how to look at the microscope to differentiate bacteria with thick and thin cell wall (gram positive and gram negative bacteria) using gram staining.

Students later visited the malaria labs were Dr Muna Affara and team explained how to read malaria slides. They viewed malaria parasite through microscopes and were also taught on best practice in interpreting accurate results. At the clinical labs, Gibril Bah and other members of the team showed the students normal and abnormal blood cells, including the sickle form of red blood cells in patients admitted at the Clinical Services Department with sickle cell disease.

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Students at the malaria lab

During the visit, the student’s asked in-depth questions on bacterial cell wall, bacterial transmission, signs and symptoms of malaria and differences in cell shape in people with sickle cell disease. Dr Anna Roca commented that “A good way for engaging children into science is showing them what we are doing at MRCG. Children learn from hands-on experiences and that is why I think they enjoyed using the microscope the most to see bacteria, infected and non-infected red blood cells. They also enjoyed performing the catalase test to identify bacteria”.

As a result of this visit, the students improved on their observational skills. Overall they were very excited to put into practice what they were taught in the classroom and thanked the MRCG immensely for their usual support.