Last week, students of Calthorpe Park School visited Green Biologics as part of their illusion ice cream challenge.
Over the past few weeks the students have been researching how to make ice cream that tastes like one thing and smells like another through large-scale fermentation.
CTO Tim Davies gave a brief overview into what Green Biologics does before the students headed down to the labs. He explained what biotechnology was, and that their company used bacteria to create chemicals that can be used in products such as soaps, cosmetics, recycled plastics and food additives. These chemicals are usually created as a by-product of oil, so their methods eliminate the need for extracting these fuels in the future.
The labs gave the students a chance to clarify their knowledge they’d learnt in the last few weeks, and understand how the process might actually occur in industry, especially the R&D element. It also gave them the chance to understand how what they learn in school might be used in a career, and the ways in which they could get to this career.
Amongst the tasks given to students was the chance to alter the permeability of a cell wall and membrane through “heat shock”, allowing DNA molecules to enter the cell, in a process known as transformation.
They were also given the opportunity to look through Green Biologics’ microscope to see how the lab tests for suitable strains, and found that strains look remarkably different when they in their prime growth period compared to when they have been left too long. Students also tried their hands at a neat little test which involved crystal violet staining as a way of classifying bacteria.
Students really enjoyed the day, with feedback including: “I got a look into the world of science in a way I’ve never seen before” and I enjoyed “being about to explore the real-world applications, guidelines and processes rather than being restricted in a school lab environment.”