Work experience at GTAC gave me an insight to what it is like to work in a small part of the science industry. The GTAC staff were very welcoming and made it very easy to get the best out of this wonderful experience. I was able to discover the various microscopes and their purposes. Fran was the first to show Sharlene, Seamus, Zoe and I the use of a stereo microscope and how even on the lowest magnification you are able to see various things in very fine detail. With the compound microscope we looked at stained garlic root tips to see if we could find any mitosis happening in the garlic chromosomes. Unfortunately we were not able to find any mitosis happening in the cells, although I still enjoyed looking at the many individual cells containing the stained nuclei.
Fran also showed us some animal skin cells from a cow on the fluorescence microscope. Surprisingly the cells had two nuclei which is very rare and was amazing to see. The fluorescence microscope was very technical compared to the stereo microscope and had to be handled with a lot of care. I learnt that when looking at cells under the fluorescence microscope, you can’t keep the UV light on for long whilst there is a slide containing cells on there, otherwise it can fade the fluorescence and the picture of the cell won’t be as useful or interesting.
Later on with Nicole we learnt how to use the SEM (scanning electron microscope) and look at flowers and other objects with a higher magnification. Sharlene, Seamus, Zoe and I each took it in turns to put our flowers, berries and other objects in the SEM and look at them in very fine detail from 50x magnification to 30,000x magnification. I looked at a wattle flower and my skin in the SEM. I was amazed at how complex the structure of a small wattle flower is. My skin cell was also interesting but did manage to disgust me a little bit at how the structure of my skin looked very flaky.
Whilst at GTAC I also enjoyed our microbiology project where we collected swabs off different surfaces and put them into our petri dishes, on the agar that we also made. I collected my swab from the toilet door handles, I put my fingerprints into the agar and I also coughed into the agar. Once we had sealed the dishes we put them into the incubator so we could analyse them the next day. When we pulled out our bacteria we were all a bit surprised at how much had grown and how much bacteria was on our chosen surfaces. After looking at our dishes we took photos of them with ELMO (Electric Light Magnifying Object). Later on with Chris we put them under the stereo microscope and found the different colonies of bacteria and the shapes that they had formed.
GTAC has helped me figure out what career pathway I want to take and after being here for a week I definitely know that I want my career to involve science and pipetting. By working with the scientists we learnt a lot more about science and got a better view of what life is like working at GTAC. My week at GTAC was fun and enjoyable thanks to all the lovely staff that have taught me many valuble things and helped me get a good view of what being a scientist is like.