School students learn about the science behind COVID transmission

06 Apr 2021 | 2 mins

Student interns from The University of Western Australia’s Barry Marshall MicroBlitz program recently held workshops with WA high schools to teach school students how COVID spreads and the importance of contact tracing.

Students from Byford Secondary College attended UWA in partnership with Aspire UWA, a UWA program that aims to raise aspirations of school students to pursue a tertiary education, which is supported by the Alcoa Foundation.

They took part in experiments and laboratory work, including pipetting various solutions into vials, learning how to inoculate 'bacteria' on petri dishes and seeing how contract tracing works and why it is so important to prevent the spread of disease.

The interns were able to put into practice many of the skills they had learnt while completing a two-week intensive portion of their program in the UWA MicroBlitz and Helicobacter Research laboratories.

Tammara Olds, one of the interns involved, said the workshops allowed interns to work within their comfort zones. 

“The opportunity allowed us to fine tune some critical skills we have learnt, including organisation, delivery and reflection. It was great to pass our knowledge on to teach younger school students about bacteria,” she said.

“We gave the students a real life example of a small component of the reality of disease transmission and diagnosis and to use a microbiologists’ tool of the trade – the micropipette.

“As with all community engagement, the ultimate aim is to have passed on a small piece of valuable information that you have learned yourself and to hopefully inspire someone else to seek to learn more too.”

The internship program is a multidisciplinary experience across the UWA School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Agriculture and Environment and highlights the need for scientists to be good communicators.

The Barry Marshall MicroBlitz Internship is funded by UWA with contribution from The McCusker Foundation. 

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