SPARQ-ed Cell and Molecular Biology Experiences are a selection of half to two day programs aimed at providing senior secondary students an opportunity to explore concepts and use techniques not normally covered in a school laboratory. Each one covers a small aspect of cell and molecular biology, using routine procedures to demonstrate subjects which form the core of modern biomedical research. The subject matter covered aligns with the key concepts as outlined in the Queensland Senior Biology Syllabus and may be tailored to suit the needs of individual school programs.

The programs are conducted in the SPARQ-ed teaching laboratory, a PC2 rated facility located on the ground ground floor of the Translational Research Institute in Woolloongabba, Brisbane. Each one is developed and supervised by the SPARQ-ed coordinator in conjunction with researchers from the University of Queensland’s Diamantina Institute.

Prior to the program commencing, students will need to familiarize themselves with the support materials provided on the SPARQ-ed website, including manuals and the risk assessments. Students must read through these risk assessments and have their parents or guardians sign the permission forms provided by the Coordinator.

2017 availability calendar

How to apply

Online expression of interest form

Schools can now lodge an expression of interest for a SPARQ-ed Cell and Molecular Biology Workshop online - just follow the link above.

Please Note: we are aware that there are some problems in accessing the above online form through Education Queensland networks. If you are having trouble accessing the above link, you can apply by downloading and filling in a paper application form and sending it to sparqed@uq.edu.au

Schools will be notified of their success in obtaining a Cell and Molecular Biology Experience, and the coordinator will negotiate with the schools the timing of the program and the program undertaken (including any modifications to it).

Important notes

Please note the following points :

  • Schools using buses are encouraged to drop students off at the bus stop on Cornwall Street (near Gate 2 on the PA Hospital Map). Alternatively, the TRI is on a public transport hub, with City Express bus stops on Ipswich Road, a dedicated stop on the Southeastern Busway and is quite close to Dutton Park railway station.
  • The TRI has a cafe, however the time allocated for breaks do not permit a class of 25 students all buying their lunch. We encourage schools to have students make their own arrangements for food. Drinking fountains and toilet facilities are provided.
  • OH&S requirements state that all people in PC2 laboratories wear flat, closed in shoes which do not expose the toes, heels or tops of the feet. Long hair must be tied back. We cannot permit entry to people who do not follow these requirements. Personal protective equipment (laboratory gowns, gloves and safety glasses) will be provided by SPARQ-ed.

 

Name Summary Concepts Covered Time
DNA restriction & electrophoresis Participants perform a restriction digest on a plasmid containing an inserted gene. They run the resulting digest on an agarose gel and use the results to determine whether the gene had been insert correctly or incorrectly. Structure of DNA, restriction endonucleases and restriction digests, enzymes, cloning using commercial plasmid vectors, demonstration of DNA using agarose gel electrophoresis

1 day (4.5hrs)

or by arrangement

The polymerase chain reaction Participants use the polymerase chain reaction to amplify a section of a gene. The presence of this gene fragment is then demonstrated using agarose gel electrophoresis. Structure of DNA, DNA replication, PCR, enzymes, demonstration of DNA using agarose gel electrophroesis

1 day (4.5hrs)

or by arrangement

Alakaline lysis mini-plasmid preparations  Participants are provided with a culture of bacteria which has been transformed using a commercial plasmid vector containing a gene of interest. They use an alkaline lysis mini-plasmid preparation to recover the plasmid from the bacteria, followed by a restriction digest and agarose gel electrophoresis to demonstrate the presence of the plasmid and inserted gene in their extract.  Structure of DNA, using plasmids for cloning, genetic modification, microbiology, alkaline lysis mini-preps, restriction endonucleases and restriction digests, enzymes, demonstration of DNA using agarose gel electrophoresis

1 day (4.5hrs)

or by arrangement

Mitosis movies Participants prepare a culture flask of mammalian cancer cells. These cells are treated with a bank of chemotherapeutic drugs which are known to affect the cells by interfering with the cell cycle. The flasks are then set up on a microscope which takes a series of images over sixteen hours. By merging these images into a “movie”, participants observe the progression of their cells throughout the cell cycle and try to determine which drug was placed in each well, depending on their knowledge of how each drug is known to work. The structure of the cell, the cell cycle, mitosis, cell division, cancer and how it is linked to disturbances in the cell cycle, action of chemotherapeutic drugs

1 day (4.5hrs)

or by arrangement

Immunofluorescence Participants are provided with coverslips containing cultured mammalian cells. They carry out an immunofluorescence protocol aimed at demonstrating specific cellular structures (eg. actin or tubulin) with a DAPI ounterstain and observe and photograph these cells using fluorescent and / or confocal microscopy Cell structure, mammalian cell culture, mitosis and the cell cycle, antigen-antibody interactions, direct and indirect immunofluorescence, fluorescence and confocal microscopy

1 day (4.5hrs)

or by arrangement