Students of Banjul American International School (BAIS) visit Keneba Field Station

BAIS students aged 14-15 years old and their teachers visited The MRC Unit The Gambia Field Station in Keneba recently, to see practical aspects of what they learned in their basic science class in school.

Students preparing the PCR mastermix

Students preparing the PCR mastermix

Students extracting DNA from strawberriesCoordinated by the Laboratory Services, the visit took place from 25th May to 27th May 2017, and marked BAIS first visit, to our Field Station in Keneba. The students visited the Keneba Research Laboratory to learn about deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA); how it can be extracted from blood, saliva and amplified using polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

While in the Research Laboratory, the middle school students were shown a video representation of the polymerase chain reaction process, which explains how several copies of a target DNA strand are produced from a single copy. Thereafter, they observed hands-on genetics lab work as they were allowed to extract DNA from strawberries precipitating with ethanol.

Students extracting DNA from strawberries

Students extracting DNA from strawberries

They were also shown a physical demonstration of conducting a nested PCR for malaria diagnostics. Each student had the opportunity to prepare the master mix. Thereafter the PCR product was run on a gel electrophoresis tank. Each student participated in loading samples on the gel. Visibility of bands was observed using the gel doc imager.

While in the laboratory, health and safety procedures for working in the laboratory environment, as well as the importance of wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), were explained to the students. In addition, the students were also given a tour of the Keneba’s Clinical Laboratory.

During the sessions, the students asked many questions and were excited to see DNA bands through DNA amplification. The students and teachers were grateful for the opportunity to visit our Field Station in Keneba as it provided them with a stimulating educational experience.