The goal of the Mobile bioclass is to introduce life sciences for schoolchildren and to increase their interest in biotechnology and related disciplines.
The project popularizes science by introducing contemporary methods of DNA analysis to students giving them the opportunity to work with modern lab equipment and to raise awareness in the fields of molecular biology and gene technology.
During this project the mobile lab will travel across Estonia and visit different schools.
The target group for the Mobile bioclass are students from grades 10-12.
In Estonia the project started in 2013 and has travelled more than 75 000 kilometers.
The Mobile bioclass is Tartu University's joint project with biotechnology company Thermo Fisher Scientific. In 2011 the first mobile class started in Lithuania, the project later expanded to other Baltic States.
- The aim of the project is to popularize science to students by introducing contemporary methods of DNA analysis and to give them the opportunity to work with modern lab equipment.
- During a school visit different experiments for 24 students are organized. The practical training lasts about 4 hours for students, with opportunities for breaks. This time is supplemented by the preparation of the class and the subsequent cleaning and packing of the class, which takes about one hour. Thus, the duration of one school visit would be 5-6 hours.
The project will be carried out by the students of the University of Tartu and Biosciences' Students Association who will receive the necessary training and on whose basis the project team will be formed. Students work for this project free of charge.
The school visit begins with furnishing of the laboratory. All necessary equipment will be transported to the school in containers, and after unpacking, the workplaces will be furnished for six groups of four students. Thus, 24 students can participate at a time. All six groups are equipped with the same tools and hardware. Each group has its own instructor, who assists and advises in carrying out the experiments and from whom it is possible to ask for additional information immediately if problems arise. In addition to the group tutors, one or two more experienced students participate, whose task is to lead the lecture part.
- The lecture part starts with an introduction, during which the project and its goals are discussed. The practical part begins with learning how to pipette, followed by a competition. Then we introduce DNA - students are explained how to measure the amount of DNA and how to precipitate DNA. Then a lecture and practical part will follow on how certain regions of DNA of interest can be amplified during a PCR reaction. Practical work continues with the analysis of the results of the PCR reaction by agarose gel electrophoresis. Finally, there is a summary of the work done, during which students can ask questions about the different experiments and their parts.
- After the students leave, the desks are cleaned, the equipment and supplies are packed, and the class is set up in the same order as before. All the trash generated during the work is packed, taken away and disposed of in Tartu according to the prescribed procedure.
- The apparatuses and small lab equipment is provided by Thermo Fischer Scientific.
- The visit is free of charge for the school.
- The class covers all Estonian counties.
- Preference will be given to schools that are further away from larger centers.
Several people throughout the years have coordinated the project.
Main Coordinator - Professor Ants Kurg
Marcella Laura Polverino
Nils Joonas Kristian Saar
The financies and support to the project has come from different organisations:
Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics
University of Tartu
Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Tartu
Bioscience Students' Association
Gambling Tax Council
Estonian Research Agency
Tudengid panevad kooliõpilasi katseid tegema (in Estonian)
November 2022 number 5 ajakiri Universitas Tartuensis veebiversioon (longer article)
June 2022 number 3 ajakiri Universitas Tartuensis (page 42, start of the article)