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Our wonderful 7-Day UK Biology Trip

[SCIE web news, Nov 23rd, 2017] Landing in Manchester on October 27,2017, we started our seven-day UK Biology Trip.


Day 1 

We reached at Manchester Airport at dawn around 6:00 am and the weather was cold with 6°. We enjoyed the beautiful sunrise on the coach though our body were exhausted. After two-hour drive, we finally arrived at our learning center called Castle Head. Amazed by the equipments inside, we found this three-floor castle looked like a private villa in the 18 centuries with labs, classrooms, canteens, gyms, library, dormitory, students’ hall as well as the mini bar. Later the dorm manager told us this center was a rich private house before and then it was changed to be a religious school and became to the NGO Castle Head now.


After breakfast, we began our team building practise. Coach Sarah showed us what woodlice looked like from the picture and then we started to hunt for these little insects by the spoon. It took us a while to catch them before we realised how smart they were (They liked to pretend dying). We set them free after marking these clever stuffs.


Our next job was to make a trap for other little animals. All of us were quite curious about what kind of animals will be attracted by our lovely traps which were decorated by apple meat and straw. Afterwards, we started to “Running Man” games. The challenges included Rope Climbing, Balance Beam, Grid Walking, Bridge building on the stake. They all required our team’s mutual support and we were endeavour to complete all challenges, it chased away our exhaustion in final.


Though it was tired after the intense training on the first day, we still looked forward to the gene study on the following day.


Day 2

Our lab teacher called Tors, she was very friendly and warm even the weather was so cold. In the morning, she led us review the DNA knowledge points that we learned in A1 and instructed us how to use micropipette. The topic was how to take the DNA out through the polymerase chain reaction and how to express DNA via gel electrophoresis. As it need some time for the polymerase chain reaction, we were back to the wild team training again.


This time was the intelligence and courage test. Two of our teammates should stand on two plastic boxes and they need to build it up as high as they can before the “tower” fell. We observed which way was more stable as the boxes kept shaking while we stood on it. It was quite excited to build it and the most exciting moment was when you reached the time limit, you could kick the box one by one while you were landed down. And we succeeded in building a 19-layer tower in final.


We all agreed that a future biologist should be able to work in the lab and good at wallowing in the mud. After the box game, we were told to finish the challenges by holding each other’s hand and crossing hurdles, passing the water pipe as well as walking on the tires. We had a good time though we had been through many interesting and awkward moments.


In the evening when we were back to lab, we were quite surprised at the result of the gel electrophoresis, because Team ‘Always Positive’ got ‘negative’ result and other teams got positive result. We comforted the team which failed to get the result with always staying Positive in mind!


Day 3

Today we all were very excited as we can leave the training center after two days of intense study. We went hiking first and Tors showed us some wild fruit which were sweet along the road and we were amazed how beautiful the lake district was when we reached at the top. Tors told us the story of Windermere, which was wind+ water. The two powerful nature combine together and attract tourist from all over the world.


In the afternoon, we went to the town center called Bowness and bought some souvenirs. The beautiful lake view was beyond the word when we were on a boat trip while appreciated it.


In the evening, we were back to the lab and continued our experiment: extracting and nurturing bacteria, putting them in the incubator to wait for the result next day.


Day 4

In the early morning, we were excited to hear that the bacteria we nurtured could be used for the experiment now. Our next step was to examine whether the bacteria could be implanted in the Insulin genes or not.


Under Tor’s instruction, we extracted the DNA sample and took the bacteria DNA enzyme out, and then we checked if they included the Insulin genes through the gel electrophoresis.


We needed to wait for the result for half day, so in the afternoon we went to crack climbing. At the beginning, we all thought it would be very easy like the soldiers or policemen did on the TV. However, we underestimated the difficulties. The rock crack was so small that out boots could not fit in and we could only use our hands and knees to stick on the rock and hold us up. It was quite common to see everyone failed more than ten times at the beginning and the idea that ‘I want to quit ‘came up in our mind as well. Hopefully, we made our effort to overcome the difficulties and reached at the top in final with everyone’s encouragement. The pleasure and happiness to defeat the desperate was unforgettable though our knees turned blue and nails got broken.


When we returned to the lab at night, Tors told us to prepare and design the following experiments by ourselves.


Day 5 

Half of our trip had passed and we had got used to running to our warm lab through the cold wind after the breakfast. Each group was trying hard to design their own experiment to keep the gene they wanted by using two different enzymes. But we met many difficulties during the process, e.g.  Group Amylase did not tight up the head of the bottle which resulted in the DNA splashing everywhere while centrifugation. 


Day 6

Today we went to collect data about plants on the sand dune near the beach to research the influence of the land environment to the plants.


We had to clary different kinds of plants such as learning how to recognize the plant’s categories from their leaves. Though the wind was so strong and sometimes it was boring to do the same thing again and again, we kept patient and Tors gave us high praise as the data we collected was very completed and might be useful for some organisations like National Geography.


Here is the learning experience in Castle Head Center. we had busy life here every day, e.g. study genes, write reports, submit the university application, but we learned a lot here as well. At the same time, we realized that your effort will never let you down if you have dream and brief in your mind.

(Report/ Jamie and Echo; Translation and photos/ Jamie)   

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