A scheme to bring Nobel-prize winning science to students across the UK has been showcased to education minister Elizabeth Truss.
The £150,000 Amgen-Bruce Wallace Biotechnology Lab Programme has been running since October 2011 and has reached 40 schools and involved more than 3,000 students across the country.
It was first established in America by human therapeutics and biotechnology company the Amgen Foundation before being rolled out in the UK.
The programme facilitates partnerships which allow schools to access laboratory-grade resources and sees pupils using techniques that they would normally only learn about from textbooks. It supports secondary schools with equipment, curriculum assistance and supplies.
Students across Norfolk have been the latest to benefit as the initiative was delivered with support from the county’s Teacher Scientist Network (TSN) and the East of England’s Science Learning Centre.
Minister for education, Elizabeth Truss, visited Downham Market High School to see the scheme in action at the end of last month and chatted to students as they were carrying out some of the experiments.
Teachers and technicians from the participating Norfolk schools received training on the programme by the TSN last summer.
Dr Phil Smith, co-ordinator of the TSN, said: “The techniques that the pupils are now developing were Nobel-prize winning science in recombinant DNA technology. This science remains the bedrock of pharmaceutical product development and much of the science that takes place across the Norwich Research Park.
“This really is cutting-edge science and science equipment being used in schools across our county. The resources are loaned to schools from the TSN Kit Club, allowing many schools to access them during the course of an academic year.”
The TSN is hosted by the John Innes Centre in Norwich, a research centre in plant and microbial sciences (www.tsn.org.uk). An application has been submitted to extend the Amgen programme in the UK until 2015 (www.bwbiotechprogram.com). CAPTION: Lab support: Education minister Elizabeth Truss lends a hand during the Biotechnology Lab session at Downham Market High