SPARQ-ed offers a range of programs suitable for upper primary and junior secondary school students. These are hands-on experiences which focus on skills used by biomedical scientists in a range of situations, including DNA extraction and profiling, the use of microscopes, forensic investigations (fingerprints, fibre analysis, ink analysis and DNA analysis), microbiology and hygiene and cell biology. These immersions can be conducted in the SPARQ-ed facility on the ground floor of the Translational Research Institute in Woolloongabba, Brisbane.

The programs are developed by the SPARQ-ed Coordinator and the SPARQ-ed teacher, experienced registered science teachers, in conjunction with the research community at UQDI. They provide students with the opportunity to carry out authentic scientific investigations in a real laboratory.

Schools can now lodge an expression of interest online for SPARQ-ed Upper Primary and Junior Secondary School Immersions and Experience Days.

2017 availability calendar 

How to apply

Online Expression of Interest Form

Schools can now register an expression of interest for a SPARQ-ed Upper Primary / Junior Secondary School Immersion and Experience Day online.

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 program, 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:

  • Temporary parking for small buses on the hospital grounds can be arranged by the Coordinator. 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 24 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.
  • This is a specialist science outreach program and SPARQ-ed staff are working as specialist resident presenters. For reasons pertaining to OH&S, classroom teachers must be present and actively supervising students in the workshop at a ratio of at least 1 teacher : 24 students.  

Name Summary Concepts Covered Time

Introduction to Cell Biology

 

Students perform a range of investigations designed to teach them about cell biology. Activities include observing cell structure using microscopes and computer-based apps, simple biochemical tests, osmosis studies using cultured cells, diffusion and optimal cell shape and making time-lapse movies of cells dividing. Aligns to the following Australian National Curriculum elements:

  • Cells are the basic units of living things and have specialised structures and functions (ACSSU149) (Yr 8)
  • Science knowledge can develop through collaboration and connecting ideas across the disciplines of science (ACSHE226) (Yr 8)
  • Identify questions and problems that can be investigated scientifically and make predictions based on scientific knowledge (ACSIS139) (Yr 8)
  • Multi-cellular organisms rely on coordinated and interdependent internal systems to respond to changes to their environment (ACSSU175) (Yr 9)
Cell biology, cell structures, biochemical, diffusion and osmosis, mitosis and cell division, microscopy.

1 day (4.5hrs)

or by arrangement

(Junior Secondary)

A World in a Drop of Water

Students learn the basics of how to use a microscope, including the parts of the microscope, how to make a wet preparation, how the optics of the microscope turns around the specimens you are looking at and the amazing array of life to be found in a drop of pond water. Aligns to the following Australian National Curriculum elements:

  • Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (ACSSU043) (Yr 5)
  • The growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment (ACSSU094) (Yr6)
     
Microscope components and function, care and proper use of microscopes, wet preparations, simple optics, freshwater biology (can also include examination of onion cells under the microscope, simple osmotic experiments for older students)

1 day (4.5hrs)

or by arrangement

Upper primary

DNA Workshop

Students use household products to extract DNA from a strawberry. They then perform a simulated DNA profile (using real electrophoresis equipment) to solve a simple crime.  Aligns to the following Australian National Curriculum elements:

  • Science involves testing predictions by gathering data and using evidence to develop explanations of events and phenomena (ACSHE081) (Yr5-6)
  • Scientific knowledge is used to inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE217) Yr5-6)
  • With guidance, plan appropriate investigation methods to answer questions or solve problems (ACSIS086)
DNA, safe measurement and use of chemicals, DNA profiles

1 day (4.5hrs)

or by arrangement

Upper primary

Who Stole the Lollypops ?

In the first session of this program, students investigate a simulated crime scene. They collect evidence such as fibres, a written note and DNA, as well as lifting and analysing fingerprints left at the scene. In the SPARQ-ed laboratory, the students use paper chromatography to analyse the ink on the note, microscopy to analyse the fibres left at the scene and perform a simulated DNA profile on the DNA evidence collected from the scene. Putting these pieces of evidence together, they then determine "Who stole the lollypops?". Aligns to the following Australian National Curriculum elements:

  • Science involves testing predictions by gathering data and using evidence to develop explanations of events and phenomena (ACSHE081) (Yr5-6)
  • Scientific knowledge is used to inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE217) Yr5-6)
  • With guidance, plan appropriate investigation methods to answer questions or solve problems (ACSIS086)
Basic concepts of forensic science, fingerprints (collection and analysis), microscopy (care and proper use of the microscope, making wet preparations), paper chromatography, DNA and DNA profiles

1 day (4.5hrs)

or by arrangement

Upper primary or Jnr secondary

Little Things Matter

Students make predictions about locations where microbes are likely to be found in the environment and then test a range of anti-microbial products by culturing swabs taken before and after treatment with the products. Cultures are incubated in the SPARQ-ed laboratory and then examined by the students to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatments. Aligns to the following Australian National Curriculum elements:

  • Science involves testing predictions by gathering data and using evidence to develop explanations of events and phenomena (ACSHE081) (Yr5-6)
  • Scientific knowledge is used to inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE217) Yr5-6)
  • With guidance, plan appropriate investigation methods to answer questions or solve problems (ACSIS086)
Microbiology, hygiene and sanitation, microscopy (care and proper use of the microscope).

1 day (4.5hrs)

or by arrangement

Upper primary or Jnr secondary

From 2017 SPARQ–ed will be offering a new program tailored to meet the needs of schools wishing to engage and extend STEM students in years 6-9. The junior researcher immersion programs are based on the research themes used in the SPARQ-ed senior programs, and give students a taste of real world, cutting edge scientific research.  These programs have also been developed to link closely with the Australian curriculum and improve student outcomes in STEM subjects further preparing them for senior studies in science and mathematics.

Three different programs are available. Programs are designed to be done across either 2 full school days or as a half day (Friday) followed by a full day on Saturday at the SPARQ-ed laboratory, a purpose built educational facility at the Translational Research Institute. 

Applications

Once completed please send forms to sparqed@uq.edu.au.

Junior Biochemist (best suited for year 8-9)

Date: 15 & 16 August, 2017 (booked out  - please email: sparqed@uq.edu.au for other dates)

In this program students will use chromatography to extract and purify a green fluorescent protein. Green fluorescent protein has been cloned from a gene originally produced by jellyfish, and is a commonly used a marker molecule in molecular biology.  The chemical concepts of concentration, bonding and hydrophobicity will be covered along with the basic structure of amino acids proteins.

Day one

  • Enzymatic lysis of bacterial cells
  • Purification of protein via hydrophobic interaction chromatography
  • Colorimetric chemical assay to graph a standard curve of protein concentration and use numerical methods to calculate the concentration of protein in their sample.

Day two

  • SDS PAGE analysis of purified protein sample
  • Computer analysis of colorimetric data, using graphing software to calculate the protein concentration
  • Bioinformatics session using 3D computer modeling, and using graphing software to calculate the protein concentration

Junior Geneticist (best suited years 6-9)

Date: 12 & 13 May, 2017 (booked out  - please email: sparqed@uq.edu.au for other dates)

In this program students use molecular biology techniques to clone a gene for a fluorescent marker protein into a bacterial cell.  This process involves a range of techniques such as PCR, bacterial transformation, restriction digestion of DNA and electrophoresis. The program can be modified to meet the needs of different year levels/extension groups.

Day one

  • Introduction to DNA and genes
  • PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) to amplify gene of interest
  • Transformation of plasmid into bacterial cell

Day two

  • Analysis of bacterial colonies check for fluorescence
  • Extraction of plasmid DNA from bacterial cells
  • Computer analysis of gene sequences of the cloned gene and plasmid vector
  • Restriction Digestion and electrophoresis

This program can be combined with the Junior Biochemist program which follows on from this to make a longer program.  

Junior Microbiologist (best suited years 6-8)

Date: 10 & 11 November, 2017 (booked out  - please email: sparqed@uq.edu.au for other dates)

This is designed to be accessible for our younger scientists, and can be combined with the immunology program to make longer or done in consecutive years. Students will investigate the world of microbes and learn how they can both help and harm us.

Day one

  • Prepare specimens of and observe look at bacterial and yeast cells under the microscope.
  • Design and perform and investigation to analyse fermentation in yeast cells.
  • Learn aseptic technique and use this to culture microorganisms from dairy foods.
  • Analyse and graph experimental data

Day two

  • Observe and quantify microorganisms grown
  • Discuss and investigate the role of microbes in the human body
  • Present their findings in small groups