Biology

Biochemistry lab We have a number of Biology outreach programs for VCE and Year 9 and 10 students available at our Melbourne, Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga campuses.

These include the free Get into Genes Programs, as well as programs focusing on ecology, disease and microbiology.

VCE

Get into Gums

For: Year 11, VCE Biology Unit 1

Available: 24 April to 12 May

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: Free

Maximum: 30 students

Location: Melbourne

Get into Gums is an interactive bioinformatics program that provides insight into the impact DNA sequencing technology has had on conventional classification techniques. Practical activities challenge students to explore the relationship between iconic eucalypt species, using both morphological features and DNA sequence data. Students also gain an understanding of the adaptation and biodiversity of Australian eucalypts within the context of evolution.

Get into Gums has been developed to align with Unit 1 Biology, Area of Study 2. This workshop also helps students gain the knowledge and experience required for ‘a bioinformatics exercise’ given as one of the Assessment tasks for School Assessed Coursework (SAC) Outcomes 1 and 2.

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Living Systems

Wildlife Sanctuary

For: Year 11, VCE Biology Unit 1

Available: By arrangement

Duration: 2 to 4 hours

Cost: $13 to $24 per student

Maximum: 75 students

Location: Melbourne

Students investigate the history of Australian woodlands in a guided wander through the La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary, La Trobe University’s 30-hectare outdoor laboratory. Students also engage with a scientific methodology for the investigation and interpretation of a terrestrial and/or aquatic ecosystem and learn about the adaptations of animals and plants to the changing climate.

This program is divided into two two-hour sessions. One session involves the development of understanding for Area of Study 2, with an emphasis on indigenous plants and animals and how these have changed over time, as well as discussions around history, human impact and fire ecology. The session also enhances understanding of biodiversity concepts and relationships between organisms. The second session involves a practical investigation
of a wetland or woodland ecosystem, with appropriate methodology and data collection techniques to enable completion of outcomes in Area of Study 3.

Groups can choose to do either one of the two‑hour sessions or the full day session. Student notes and teacher guide for School Assessed Coursework (SAC) materials are provided.

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Testing Plants for Antibiotics

For: Year 11, VCE Biology Unit 1

Available: By arrangement

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: $24 per student

Maximum: 30 students

Location: Bendigo

The World Health Organisation describes antimicrobial resistance as an increasingly serious threat to global public health. With antibiotic-resistant bacteria present in every country in the world, the threat is real. This
workshop – developed by a botanist and a microbiologist – allows students to explore biodiversity and the potential bioprospecting offers for finding new drugs to mitigate microbial resistance. The workshop is aligned to Unit 1, Area of Study 2.

Students are given a tour of the University grounds and introduced to plants that have been used in traditional medicine in their natural environment. In the lab, they use a variety of techniques to test plants to determine if
they contain substances with antimicrobial properties. This workshop is supported by a seminar about bacteria, bioprospecting, biopiracy and developments in current research into alternatives to antibiotics.

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Heredity and Patterns of Inheritance

For: Year 11, VCE Biology Unit 2

Available: Melbourne 8 to 18 August, Albury-Wodonga by arrangement

Duration: 2.5 hours

Cost: $24 per student

Maximum: Melbourne 25 students, Albury-Wodonga 36 students

Location: Melbourne, Albury-Wodonga

Students explore the principles of Mendelian genetics – how hereditary characteristics are passed from parent organisms to their offspring – by manipulating and examining Drosophila fruit flies. The workshop develops
student understanding of heredity and patterns of inheritance, with content that illustrates genotypes, phenotypes and ratios, predicting the outcomes of monohybrid crosses and differentiating dominant, recessive, X-linked,
independent and linked traits. Students are challenged with questions that could be used for School Assessed Coursework (SAC). Teacher notes with suggested solutions are provided.

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Genetics of Phenylketonuria

For: Year 11, VCE Biology Unit 2

Available: By arrangement

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: $24 per student

Maximum: 30 students

Location: Bendigo

This workshop is aligned to Unit 2, Area of Study 2 of the new Biology study design, allowing students to explore inheritance models and genetic screening in the context of the metabolic disease Phenylketonuria (PKU).

Students examine methods of diagnosing PKU, and conduct tests to determine the likelihood a patient is suffering from the disease. They will explore techniques used in genetic testing and discuss the history and ethical issues
surrounding newborn testing. Students are given the opportunity to examine genetic testing results from a hypothetical family and to describe the inheritance patterns involved using a pedigree chart. The workshop is supported by a lecture about the cause, symptoms and treatment of PKU.

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Flu Attack - Immunity Fights Back

For: Year 12, VCE Biology Unit 3

Available: May

Duration: 3 hours (2 hour workshop + 1 hour revision on Immune system)

Cost: $26 per student

Maximum: 25 students

Location: Melbourne

The constant evolution of the influenza virus poses an unpredictable threat of high fatality pandemics. Most people do not consider influenza (flu) to be a deadly disease. However, the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, estimated to have killed 30-40 million people, shows that it can be catastrophic! Many of us are exposed to and recover from the seasonal flu on an annual basis but occasionally a flu strain emerges that is new to human immune systems and can potentially lead to a pandemic.

Students are presented with a simulated case study in which a spreading cluster of high fatality influenza-infection related deaths are newly identified in South East Asia. Using microscopy, students will first identify the different cells that participate in an innate immune response and then discover which immune cells are responsible for the new highfatality influenza infections.

Next, students will use an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) to diagnose whether 'patients' arriving back into Australia with flu-like systems are infected with the new influenza strain. Here, students gain hands on
knowledge about the properties of adaptive cells and why antibody-based technology can be used for medical diagnostics and disease research purposes.

Finally, comparing the gene sequences of seasonal and suspected pandemic influenza strains, students will learn how PCR and gene sequencing technology is currently used for disease surveillance and monitoring around the world. An additional seminar on the immune system will provide useful revision for VCE students.

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Get into Genes - Biotechnology

For: Year 12, VCE Biology Unit 4

Available: Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: Free

Maximum: 30 students

Location: Melbourne, Bendigo

This workshop highlights the application of biotechnology in facilitating improvements to dairy cattle and crop production in the Australian environment. Rotating through four work stations, students get an overview of how technology has evolved from selective breeding through to genetic modification and genomic selection. They gain comprehensive knowledge of DNA manipulation techniques such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and gel electrophoresis through modelling, setting up reactions, and loading real DNA samples for analysis. Students also undertake a simulated experiment during which they screen for transgenic plants. This provides an enriching
context in which to understand how these techniques are used to extract vital genetic data.

Get into Genes – Biotechnology has been developed to align with Unit 4 Biology, Area of Study 2. This workshop helps students gain the knowledge and data required for ‘A report of a laboratory investigation’ given as one of
the Assessment tasks for School Assessed Coursework (SAC) Outcome 2. Additional student notes and teacher guide for School Assessed Coursework provided on request.

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Get into Genes - Issues in Gene Technology

For: Year 12, VCE Biology Unit 4 or Year 11, VCE Biology Unit 2

Available: Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: Free

Maximum: 30 students

Location: Melbourne, Bendigo

This workshop examines gene technology regulation in Australia, and offers an overview of the application of gene technologies in genetically modified crops grown around the world. The workshop explores public interest issues associated with gene technology applications in the agricultural industry, including a consideration of social, environmental, ethical and political points of view. Students analyse media representations of gene technology, and learn to consider evidence-based data when assessing related issues. The material explored
assists students to develop an understanding of the inter-relationships between biological, cultural and technological evolution.

Issues in Gene Technology has been developed to align with Unit 4 Biology, Area of Study 2. This workshop helps students gain the knowledge required for ‘A response to an issue’, given as one of the Assessment tasks for
School Assessed Coursework (SAC) Outcome 2. Additional student notes and teacher guide for School Assessed Coursework provided on request.

The skills developed in this workshop might also be applied to Unit 2 Biology, Area of Study 3 ‘Investigation of an Issue’.

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Manipulating DNA to Analyse Genes

For: Year 12, VCE Biology Unit 4

Available: By arrangement

Duration: 2.5 hours

Cost: $26 per student

Maximum: 36 students

Location: Albury-Wodonga

Students use the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and gel electrophoresis procedures to analyse a Drosophila (fruit fly) gene. Beginning with training in micro-pipetting, this hands on experience will consolidate student understanding of the processes required to manipulate DNA and the meaning behind bands on a gel. Students will work through questions that could be used for School Assessed Coursework (SAC). Teacher notes with suggested solutions are provided.

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Middle years

Bacterial Food Poisoning

For: Year 9-10, General Science

Available: By arrangement

Duration: 3 hours

Cost: $24 per student

Maximum: 40 students

Location: Melbourne, Bendigo

Food poisoning is a gastrointestinal tract disturbance commonly referred to as gastro. Symptoms involve bloating, cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea caused as a result of infection by microbial agents. Food poisoning can be caused by bacteria or viruses that enter the body via contaminated food, drinks or water supplies.

This workshop introduces students to the common pathogenic bacteria associated with “gastro” or food poisoning, highlighting the importance of proper storage, personal hygiene and preventative measures that can be taken to
avoid or minimise infection.

In the laboratory students are shown basic microbiological techniques for handling, sampling, and culturing bacteria on agar plates. They also prepare slides for staining and for the observation of bacterial cells using microscopy. Time permitting, students sample skin and other surfaces in their environment for the presence of bacteria.

Includes a one-hour lecture (optional) and a two-hour lab session.

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Disease and Diagnosis - Malaria a Case Study

For: Year 9-10, General Science

Available: By arrangement

Duration: 3 hours

Cost: $24 per student

Maximum: 25 students

Location: Melbourne, Bendigo

Mosquitoes are vectors for such life-threatening, incapacitating diseases as Ross River fever, elephantiasis, dengue fever and malaria, with malaria alone killing nearly half a million people in 2015, mostly young children. Although declining, malaria occurs in nearly 100 countries and remains one of the world’s most serious public health problems, particularly in tropical and sub-tropical areas.

In this workshop students work with educators and researchers to explore what causes malaria, how it makes people sick and how it is diagnosed. They are shown how microscopy is used to detect the malaria parasite in
blood samples, and how an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) procedure is used to detect anti-malaria antibodies in patient samples, as well as how to interpret the results.

This workshop includes a presentation on malaria to provide a context for the laboratory session. Workshop activities span all three strands of the AusVELS curricula framework – Science Understanding, Science as a Human Endeavour and Science Inquiry skills. Teachers are offered post-workshop activities to follow up in the classroom.

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Get into Genes - Biotechnology

For: Year 9 and 10, General Science

Available: Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednedsays

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: Free

Maximum: 30 students

Location: Melbourne, Bendigo

This workshop highlights the application of biotechnology to selective breeding in the agricultural industry.

Rotating through four workstations, students extract DNA and gain experience of techniques such as restriction enzyme analysis and gel electrophoresis. They acquire an understanding of how these modern genetic engineering tools are used by Australian scientists and researchers to breed farm animals and crops better suited
to the changing environment. Students work through examples of selective breeding using phenotype and genotype data for both plants and animals.

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Forensic Frenzy

For: Year 7-8, General Science

Available: By arrangement

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: $20 per student

Maximum: 25 students

Location: Bendigo

A crime has been committed. The case is being investigated and various pieces of evidence gathered, with more than one suspect identified. Your role is to assist the police investigation. Students use problem-solving skills, paper chromatography, scanning electron microscopy and other types of microscopy, finger print identification, dental records and blood analysis to solve the crime.

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