Culminating lab workshop in Brno
After two years of the pandemic, five of our students were finally able to go to Brno, Czech Republic, and worked together again on an international level to finish the Erasmus+ Project.
During the five days, students from Germany, Czech Republic, France, Austria and Denmark did lab work together and had a lot of fun.
Tuesday, 5th of April
When we arrived in Brno, our five students were welcomed by the host students and their families. The host families were very friendly and took great care of our students.
Participating in family life was a great opportunity to get to know the culture and the everyday life of a Czech. Many international friendships were made.
Wednesday,6th of April
In the morning, we were welcomed at the school by the headmaster and the school choir presented two beautiful musical pieces in the historical Aula of the school.
As an introduction to the topic of our project, we started by visiting the Mendel Museum.
We learned about Mendel´s laws of inheritance and looked at the exposition, which even showed some of his studies, which he did in German.
In the afternoon, we prepared the lab workshop at school. Workshop participants learned how to use a micropipette. This is a critical step in the experiment because the task was to pipette one microliter, which is one-millionth of a liter. We also practiced lab techniques such as working with an ultra-centrifuge. International groups were formed and the tools and chemicals were organized by the students, so we could immediately start the experiment on Thursday morning.
Thursday, 7th of April
On Thursday, we worked together in the lab and evaluated the teaching unit about the methylation of DNA.
At first, Dr. Murray Brockman made a speech about the conceptual view of DNA methylation as a natural response of an organism to environmental stress.
Then there was an introduction presented by the Czech mentors, who provided the background information about gene regulation by methylation that was necessary for the experiment.
After the first steps of the experiment, the teachers left us to work on the final report.
Our JWS students, which were the mentors of the experiment, took individual responsibility to conduct the lab without direct supervision. They provided leadership to all the 40 students.
We worked the whole day, and when we finally saw the results, we were really proud.
The DNA Methylation worked very well and all of the results were nearly perfect.
At the end of the experiment, each workgroup presented its results to the audience, and every result was slightly different because of the slight variation in the efficiency of the methylation process.
The process of DNA-methylation occurs in all living organisms. In nature, the process achieves gene silencing, and the natural expression of a DNA sequence can be suppressed by it.
In our experiment, we methylated DNA in an artificial way. The evidence that our experiment worked is given by the results of the gel electrophoresis, which clearly showed that the methylated DNA could not be cut by the restriction enzyme. This is due to the methyl group sensitive endonuclease, which is blocked by the methyl group and prevents the DNA from being cut by the restriction enzyme.
This mechanism is analogous to the mechanism of gene expression.
We did pioneer work with that because it was the first time that DNA methylation was done at a school in Europe.
We are looking forward to doing more special experiments after this one worked so well.
The students finished their successful day with pizza and bowling.
Friday, 8th of April
The students spent the whole morning at VIDA!, which is a science center for kids.
It was quite interesting and you could learn some new things.
After that, we went to the Punkva caves, which were really beautiful.
Afterward, we all ate together at school and had our final evening. Saying goodbye to our international friends was sad, but all of us are looking forward to our next meeting in September.
We are very proud of the international cooperation, with which we managed to experience a wonderful week and to do a successful experiment.