Biology Week 2022
To celebrate the amazing world of the biosciences, the Biology Department put together a full schedule of activities to coincide with national Biology Week 2022. This year, our aim was to get as many students involved as possible and to embrace our enthusiasm for the subject. From crocheting red blood cells to Bio Bakes, moth identification and brain dissection, there was plenty to choose from!
The week started with our Biology Week quiz, put together by our dedicated Year 12 Biology Prefects (Harshita, Shenglan, Harshini, Shreyanshi and Tulika). There were 15 questions to stem curiosity and discussion in form time and learn a bit of Biology along the way, including identifying famous Biologists such as Rosalind Franklin. Our winners were: 6JAC and 6ER - Congratulations! And our runners-up were: 6NW, 8JK and 7ABM. Well done to all 22 forms that took part.
Baking for Biology!
We kick-started Tuesday with a Bio Bake Bang! We had some very impressive entries this year from all key stages, from dissecting frogs to eyeballs, brains and hearts!
Our KS3 winner this year was Annetta with a spectacular, and very accurate, model animal cell. Annetta had also added labels to identify organelles such as the endoplasmic reticulum, ribosomes and the golgi body.
Connie took 1st place for the KS4 entry with the most realistic heart dissection cake with accompanying cake textbook and facts. It looked too real to eat!
In KS5, Zahra won with her mega nitrogen cycle cake complete with labels and annotations about how nutrients are cycled in an ecosystem.
Well done to all our entries. I was super impressed with the baking talent as well as the ability to incorporate the theme of Biology into a cake!
Biology Week 2022 Tote Bag
Tuesday's lunchtime had students designing their very own Biology Week 2022 tote bag, an activity that students were very eager to sign up for! With fabric pens and biology-themed stencils, students created some truly wonderful designs. Some students chose to draw organ systems, DNA or microbes, while others chose a fun biology pun. A few students even brought along their embroidery kits to sew on lungs!
Over 70 tote bags in total were designed which I hope the students will be able to use to show off their creativity at home and school.
What is Biology Week without a bit of Sir David Attenborough? On Wednesday we turned B1 into a cinema room and students had the chance to relax and watch an episode from the new Frozen Planet 2 series. Students learnt how organisms are able to thrive and survive in a fragile world of beauty and hostility. The episode also explored how our planet is on the brink of a major change.
Thursday offered more hands-on activities. We had three different sessions running at lunchtime.
All About Moths
Mr Dunning brought in his moth trap that he had left in his garden the previous night. Students were able to get up close to help identify the 13 different species that had been trapped, from the abundant Yellow Underwings, to the masters of disguise: the stunning Merveille du Jour.
As you can see from the photo, this ‘mervellous’ (sorry!) moth mimics lichens on tree branches. Students also identified the Lunar Underwing, Black Rustic, Shuttle Shapes Dart and the Setaceous Hebrew Character.
Only a few escaped into B2, much to the delight of the class that were being taught in the classroom after lunch!
We had a superb team of Year 11 students (Kimberley, Isabelle, Charlotte, and Emma) delivering a lunchtime session to crochet a red blood cell or a sperm cell.
With the help from the Year 11’s and Miss Hassan, students soon got the hang of the hooks and were well away. We hope to have a whole army of biconcave red blood cells and sperm cells soon!
Air Drying Clay Modelling
A small group of Year 7’s tried out the air-dry clay to model some biological structures at lunchtime with Mrs Kenward’s 12.1 Biology class, to model some very colourful eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells as we learnt about the differences in their ultrastructure.
Around 70 students attended the Biology lecture after school on Thursday. Ph.D. student, Janine Dovey, visited school to deliver a session on her research; oestrogen on the brain. Anuva and Sudiksha have written an article on the talk below:
Lecture on Behavioural Neuroendocrinology
On the penultimate day of Biology Week 2022, we had the opportunity to listen to a lecture by Ph.D. student Janine Dovey on behavioural neuroendocrinology. The talk was to emphasise to us that oestrogen production in our bodies has a far greater effect on us than expected. Despite the project being incredibly detailed and beyond our scope of knowledge, Janine was able to present her research to us in a manner that was accessible to age ranges of Year 10 to Year 13.
Janine prefaced her talk by presenting us with a fight or flight situation in which she demonstrated to us how the hormone system, more specifically the hypothalamus, reacted in such a situation, allowing us to gain a better understanding of what specifically happens in that situation. This was very helpful as it served as a baseline for us to understand the rest of the talk. She explained the process by which the hormones for the production of testosterone and oestrogen are released, providing a pathway for her to explain the formation of testosterone and oestrogen from cholesterol with the enzyme aromatase catalysing the reaction. Armed with this information, Janine provided us with a detailed table showing the effects that oestrogen would’ve had at different stages of a male or females’ life. We learnt that the level of exposure to oestrogen was completely different for males and females, suggesting that the foundational organisation of the brain is inherently different for males and females.
The main part of the lecture was on the experiment that she did with mice to test the effect of oestrogen on their behaviour. Janine used three different methods to measure the levels of anxiety in the mice. She used an open field test, a light dark transition test and an elevated plus test. The positioning of mice within each of these environments correlates with levels of anxiety in a mouse. For example with the open field test, if a mouse stayed in the corner then the mouse was quite anxious but if it was roaming around in the middle then she was able to infer that the mouse wasn’t anxious. The data was presented in a bar chart with the range plotted on to the bar charts to show the accuracy of her data. As she expanded on her research, it gave us an idea on what a research position in a biomedical role would be like.
Other investigations allowed Janine to come to the conclusion that menopause, that decreases the amount of oestrogen released, could be related to Alzheimer’s in women as the oestrogen allows cell reproduction, connections between neurons and the length of these neurons. This decrease in oestrogen may be correlated to increased levels of depressions and anxiety in women who go through the menopause, showing that there may be a link between the levels of oestrogen and behaviour.
On conclusion of the lecture, we had an opportunity to ask questions and despite the fact that the scope of knowledge involving a Ph.D. is very narrow, Janine answered our questions to the best of her ability. An interesting question asked was about the ethical nature of this experiment, and we were informed that all experiments involving animals are reported to an ethics committee that oversees and reviews the experiment proposal to make sure that every action taken by the individual conducting the experiment is justified and within the ethical parameters of the committee. As listeners of this incredibly interesting talk, we can successfully conclude that we all learnt something new that day as this gave us a completely new perspective on the way our bodies work.
Anuva - Year 13 and Sudiksha - Year 11
To bring Biology Week 2022 to a close the Biology Department organised a hands-on, interactive lamb split head, brain and eye dissection, attended by 60 students. Dora and Shriya have recounted their experience below.
Lamb Head Dissection
Biology week brought together some of the most wonderful aspects of biology from cells to moths and even managed to combine art into the week by creating stunning totebags and crochet art. The last of these wonderful events was the Lamb Head Dissection, which allowed the aspiring biologists of Kendrick to observe intricate and complex structures in the flesh.
During the dissection, we had the opportunity to look at the eyes in the eye socket, the mandible (or jaw), the brain, the tongue, teeth, nose and the sinus cavity as well as the muscles of the face and the lip. This allowed us to unveil what goes on behind the scenes in human and animal bodies and was a fantastic way to appreciate how each body part works together to make us who we are. An interesting difference we observed between a lamb head and a human head is the size of the incisors, this is due to the lamb being a herbivore, meaning it requires large incisors to chew vegetation. It was fascinating to see the way everything fit together and appreciate how the structure of the head helps us perform simple day-to-day functions.
As a person with glasses, it was fascinating to see the complex nature of eyes and how tiny ligaments, muscles and lenses come together in order to help us see. The sclera, an opaque white outer layer, protects the eye. Inside is the lens, which becomes thin by ciliary muscles pulling suspensory ligaments taut, to help us see long distances and becomes thicker to help us see a short distance. It was eye-opening to see the real-world application of topics we learn in biology for example how eye problems like short-distance vision occur relating to lenses. Or how colour blindness is related to rods and cones in the retina, an area of light-sensitive cells inside the eyes. As we each felt the lamb eye some of us were able to see the optic nerve which is essential for transferring visual information from the retina to the brain via electrical impulses.
The brain is one of the most complex and intricate parts of the human body and controls bodily functions, interprets sensory information and is the seat of intelligence. Through this dissection we were able to view this delicate organ and handle it, allowing us to observe the incredible organ in its full glory. A sheep’s brain is the perfect specimen to observe mammalian brain structure and is surprisingly similar to a human brain. This similarity allowed us to view the specific regions of the brain that are responsible for specific functions. There are many different lobes which include: the frontal lobes which is involved with decision-making and planning; the occipital lobe which interprets vision and colour; the parietal lobe which processes sensory information and the temporal lobe which is involved in emotional responses, memory and speech. These lobes are in very similar spots on both the human and sheep brain and allow us to associate specific functions to different regions of the brain. A part of the brain that we were able to see in detail was the cerebellum which controls movement coordination, balance and equilibrium. This remarkable structure is sometimes referred to as the ‘small brain’ which is a name that perfectly describes the appearance of the cerebellum.
Overall, the week was an incredible peek into the world of biology and this dissection helped us appreciate the intricacies of the human body. The way every ligament, muscle and nerve came together in something even as small as the eye or how the multiple regions of the brain work together in harmony, helps put into perspective the way biology plays a role in every small thing we do. It was a wonderful experience that we’ll never forget!
Shriya and Dora, Year 11
Thank you to our fantastic technicians, Mrs Joshi and Mrs Jadav, as well as the whole Biology Department for putting on such a fantastic Biology Week. Perhaps next year we will see protein bracelets, DNA made from sweets and maggot racing…watch this space!
Mrs Kenward, Head of Biology