BBC Look North investigates students’ research skills at St John Fisher
BBC Look North reporters visited St John Fisher in Dewsbury to learn more about students’ latest research endeavour, DNA Origami.
The secondary students from St John Fisher have become some of the youngest people to construct artificial structures using DNA. Towards the end of last term, the students joined pupils from Liverpool Life Sciences UTC, Sir Robert Woodard and Tapton School in Sheffield to learn to more about an emerging field of science called DNA nanotechnology, as part of the IRIS pilot for DNA Origami.
The process has been mind-blowing. The graduate level equipment has been an incredible challenge and I am grateful for the opportunity to see a different side of STEM.
The media visit to their school was an opportunity to showcase their skills and knowledge. During the project they learned how to manipulate DNA to enable them to design 2 and 3D objects out of the self-building material.
Students have enjoyed the opportunity to work beyond the curriculum and delve deeper into their topics.
“The process has been mind-blowing. The graduate level equipment has been an incredible challenge and I am grateful for the opportunity to see a different side of STEM,” says Hannah, year 12 student from St John Fisher.
“I’ve loved the experience of working on this project. It has broadened my horizons on how multidisciplinary STEM is and how beautiful the intricacy of DNA is whilst being at a nanomolecular level. It has even taught me scientific, computational and team-based skills. It’s an amazing experience,” says Hamdaan, another year 12 St John Fisher student.
This unconventional skill is worth learning, according to the Institute of Research in Schools (IRIS), the Bragg Centre for Materials Research at the University of Leeds and Henry Royce Institute. The organisations developed DNA Origami to introduce young people to the emerging field of nanotechnology, which is at the forefront of research within materials science, and inspire the next generation of research scientists.
“We are pleased to introduce DNA Origami to UK schools as it’s such a fun and a creative way to intrigue students about DNA and the possibilities that lie in its self-building structure and introduce them to the exciting field of nanotechnology,” says Jo Foster, Director for the Institute for Research in Schools.