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Forensic science practicals

Forensic science practicals
Students listening to an explanation by Dr Burns, with a gel electrophoresis kit.
Wednesday 19th December 2012 by C. Freeman

Sixth Formers used forensic science techniques to test DNA during a recent practical session. The Year 13s used gel electrophoresis kits to differentiate between DNA samples and track down which person was implicated in a simulated crime.

The process requires care to avoid cross-contamination and it takes around two and a quarter hours to obtain the necessary data. The students, who are studying Biology A Level, worked in groups to replicate the technique shown by Dr Burns.

He said: ‘I used to work in laboratories like this and we are using exactly the same equipment and techniques. It is real life crime scene investigation. By undertaking this practical experiment it will prepare them for their exams next term, helping them understand the forensic side of determining and identifying victims. Basically any DNA which is found at a crime scene will undergo this exact process.’

Student Arran France said: ‘We have been putting samples into the test tubes, then added enzymes and are going to separate it using gel electrophoresis to create a sort of “gel fingerprint” which we can compare by looking across the gel as the samples make a specific pattern as they diffuse.’

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