As someone who has taken all three pure sciences, I have always been fascinated by the study of living organisms. When the University of Queensland created their own ‘Biology Enrichment Programme’, I instantly signed up. Over two months, there were four live sessions conducted by a professor from the university and three self-learning modules with an assignment at the end. We discussed various topics such as Biotechnology, DNA, Scientific Literature and Evolution.
Learning Outcome 1:
During the programme, I realised that I was able to grasp many of the complex concepts taught. This was reflected in the scores that I received in the final assessment (3 out of 3). I noticed that DNA related concepts initially frazzled me but after brushing up my basics, I was able to catch up. This, along with how excited and engaged I got during the sessions increased my assurance in my decision of pursuing medicine as a career option. It is important for us to know our strengths to make such major life decisions in an informed way. It is important for us to know our weaknesses in order to work upon them and stop them from limiting us and our choices.
Learning Outcome 2:
Topics related to DNA initially stumped me and I was barely able to comprehend anything. After dedicating a fresh notebook to this programme, I made a study plan suited to my learning style. Before each session, I would spend a few minutes acquainting myself with the topic by watching YouTube videos, reading short articles and jotting down a summary of my understanding. During the session, I noted down important points. After the session, I reflected on how my understanding had enhanced and if there were still any loopholes. This led to me achieving high scores in all assessments taken which in turn, invigorated my thirst to dig deeper. I started reading research papers on DNA sequencing, gene regulation, etc. Having this beyond-the-syllabus knowledge has provided me with an advantage if I choose to make a career in Biology. It also makes me more confident in my academic ability and motivates me to research scientific concepts beyond the scope of my curriculum.
Learning Outcome 4:
The self-learning modules contained a lot of content that participants needed to cover independently. It was difficult to manage this along with other schoolwork and extracurriculars. In order to improve my efficiency, I decided on completing the module and taking the test on the very day that it is posted. I soon realised that this method was not feasible, as it exhausted me mentally and decreased my overall productivity. I started alloting twenty-minute slots everyday to slowly build on the concepts
Learning Outcome 6:
We discussed a variety of threats, from humans cloning and customizing their babies to the use of horseshoe blood for testing if medical devices are sterile. Human cloning is a controversial topic and requires us to reach a conclusion regarding how ethical it is, before it becomes a possibility. The different religious, social, cultural and political beliefs make this difficult. The use of horseshoe blood may endanger the species and cast a negative effect on the marine ecology.