Lab-It - Itinerant Laboratory
The Mobile Molecular Genetics Laboratory (Lab-IT) was created and developed with the aim of promoting and collaborating in the teaching of the contents of molecular genetics that were introduced during the last reform in the secondary education biology program. It is also an objective to foster the interest of secondary school students in the field of Molecular Genetics, while at the same time developing a dynamic to disseminate the potential and applications of molecular biology in various research areas, namely in terms of biomedical, pharmaceutical, veterinary sciences, forensic, biotechnological, environmental, among others.
The operation of the Lab-It project involves implementing practical laboratory sessions in interested secondary schools during which small projects are developed using the basic techniques of Molecular Biology such as DNA extraction, PCR and electrophoresis. These sessions, carried out in conjunction with the Biology teachers, allow students not only to become familiar with the scientific equipment used in a research laboratory in the field of molecular genetics, but also, and above all, the opportunity for them to implement all the experimental procedure. In addition to these types of activities, Lab-It also develops scientific dissemination actions such as lectures on various topics in the field of molecular genetics and participation in events open to the general population, promoting the dissemination of these areas through small experiments at no cost to institutions that request it.
The implementation of the project was previously based essentially on the development of tripartite agreements between the municipal councils of the Algarve, the secondary schools covered and the University of the Algarve. It was possible to reach a total of 14 secondary schools out of a total of 15 that exist in the Algarve, spread over 11 of the 16 municipalities in the Algarve. Between 2009 and 2013, we had an average of 513 students per year in the Algarve who had the opportunity to participate in these actions, which corresponds to approximately 43 practical sessions per year.
Objectives The main target of the Lab-It project involves the development of practical actions in the field of molecular genetics for Biology students in secondary education with the aim of providing support to schools in the Algarve region, particularly secondary schools, promoting, through classes practices in the field of molecular genetics, scientific knowledge in an essential area for professions focused on health technologies, fundamental research and / or biotechnology, providing information and tools that can contribute to helping students in their choices in accessing higher education and founding concepts important in the field of Biology.
Some examples of projects developed:
Project 1: Who committed the crime?
Project 2: Where are the Pseudomonas? - A case of multi-resistant infections in the Algarve.
Project 3: Prenatal diagnosis of a rare hereditary pathology and molecular determination of whether a boy / girl.
Project 4: Characterization of microbial ecology.
With the creation of the Itinerant Laboratory we managed to:
- Provide secondary schools with the necessary conditions to carry out practical classes in the field of Molecular Genetics, which otherwise would not have been possible due to the expensive nature of the equipment and reagents necessary for the implementation of practical classes on the subject of molecular genetics and the lack of knowledge of most teachers on the use / maintenance of this equipment;
- Contribute to a better adaptation of teachers to the current Biology, Biotechnology and Molecular Genetics programs;
- Provide schools and teachers with instruments and tools that contribute to the success of teaching in the area of biological sciences;
- Contribute to promote the quality of education in the Algarve region;
The application of the practical sessions of the Lab-It project involves the development of experimental procedures using Molecular Biology techniques such as DNA extraction, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and electrophoresis, these being framed within a scenario chosen by the teacher. These scenarios allow students to become familiar with scientific equipment used in a research laboratory, better understanding of contents associated with molecular genetics and, above all, to have the opportunity to implement the entire experimental procedure, while discussing methods and fundamentals for the study of molecular genetics and the results obtained.
Lab-It is part of the KCITAR project financed by the consortium:
• Algarve STP-Algarve Systems and Technology Partnership • Portugal 2020 Program • ESF- European Social Fund University of Algarve
• BIOSKEL-Comparative, Adaptative and Functional Skeletal Biology Laboratory • Center for Marine Sciences / CCMAR • CRIA - Regional Center for Innovation in the Algarve