DIVE INTO BIOCHEMISTRY, AN APPROACH TO INCREASE INTEREST IN SCIENCE

M. García-Teneche, J.M. Fernández Novell

University of Barcelona (SPAIN)
Science is a human activity with the ultimate goal of improving life quality. Nowadays, biochemistry is probably the fastest developing science, leading important changes in the field of cell biology, chemistry, biomedicine, biophysics and bioengineering. However, last decades data shows a decreasing interest in science studies among young people. To change this tendency, the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biomedicine at the University of Barcelona has developed since 2008 a program for Catalan secondary school students named Dive into biochemistry “Endinsa’t en la Bioquímica”. The main objective of this program is to motivate students towards science studies by showing and introducing them to biochemistry research and laboratory work as the main tool to develop knowledge. For this proposal, firstly, a presentation about biochemistry is performed, this session allows introduction to some of the biochemistry related fields to life sciences. In addition, the relationship between biochemistry and the most challenging diseases prevailing in our society such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes were described to students. After that, students were instructed about chemicals safety and biological laboratory security. Then, they were divided in different groups for the development experiments in the university laboratories. Some examples of typical experimental practices are Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) extraction, protein concentration measurement by spectrophotometry methods, samples pH determination by some acid-base indicators such as phenolphthalein and methyl red, protein precipitation and purification by different procedures, recombinant protein expression in Eschericchia coli and bioinformatics. Undergraduate or pre-doctoral students instructed these essential practical lessons. Finally, to evaluate and improve this educational approach, secondary school teachers and their students filled a different and particular survey. More than 200 teacher’s answers were analysed and more than 2000 students’ surveys were studied. Results and conclusions from these surveys are presented in this article. The most important teacher’s conclusion is the elimination of the gaps between secondary school and university.