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‘Unique’ workshop gives Coquitlam students chance to solve outbreaks similar to COVID-19

Provincial non-profit hosted a virtual genetics and epidemiology session for more than two dozen Centennial Secondary students.

Young minds in a Coquitlam high school were asked to put their thinking caps on this week and become an epidemiologist.

Centennial Secondary students were given the opportunity to go inside the world of genomics and genetics while using real-world tools to help solve fictional outbreaks.

Using materials and knowledge similar to those being implemented during the current COVID-19 pandemic, 28 teens worked with Genome BC as well as teams to process, analyze and synthesize information.

“Molecular biology is an integral part of our natural world,” says spokesperson Sally Greenwood of the Geneskool Education Program, deemed as ‘unique’ and ‘rare’ by the organization.

“The Genome BC Geneskool program offers students a chance to use advanced laboratory technology and techniques to see the tiny world that exists at the molecular level while learning, having fun and garnering a greater appreciation of the world around us.”

In the workshop, Genome BC said the students had to try to identify patient zero by applying DNA and cell biology they learned in Science 9.

According to Jennifer Boon, a second spokesperson for Genome BC, problems had to be progressed and resolved together, much as the ones doctors, bioinformaticians, research scientists and clinical geneticists deal with on a daily basis. 

“The goal of the Geneskool activities is to introduce students to the study of genomics in a fun and interesting context,” she writes in a statement to Tri-City News.

“Beyond hands-on experiments, the societal context and implications of various genomic technologies are discussed. As much as possible, these are student-driven discussions.”

A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, serving as a blueprint for its structure and function.

For more information on Genome BC’s workshop, you can visit its website.