Sharlene’s blog

This five day program at GTAC has been a nonstop learning experience. However at first, I was reluctant to come here. My knowledge in science is very mediocre and I was worried that at GTAC, they’d be expecting me to know as much as a person in university would. Thankfully, they did not. Everything was clearly explained, and if you didn’t understand something, you could ask questions without feeling stupid. The scientists that we worked with are very passionate about what they do and their enthusiasm made me eager to learn more and ask many questions.

One of the activities I enjoyed was the first one we did, with Fran, which was making agar jelly from scratch. It was interesting to see how it’s made, as it is generally not thought of because we are usually given pre-made agar at school. With the already autoclaved agar, we poured them into petri dishes and waited for them to set. We then took swabs of things of our choosing and put them on the agar plates. I chose to swab my belly button, earphones, and house keys. We also had a special plate with E.coli where we used the method called ‘’streaking’’. The point of streaking was to grow individual colonies.

These are the results:


Although I anticipated the results for earphones and bellybutton, I am still as equally disgusted as I would be if I hadn’t. The results for house keys were interesting though. There are definitely bacteria there, I guess it just takes longer for it to start growing visible.

One morning we were with KJ gaining an insight on forensic science. We were learning about blood typing and DNA. We got to learn why people with Type O blood are the universal donors, and why people with Type AB blood are the universal acceptors. We then led into a discussion on gender identity and sex determination. It was very interesting to learn about the genetics part of it, aside from the more psychological part.

Sharlene-image-2Another activity I enjoyed was looking for stages of mitosis within garlic stem cells. There was a procedure that we were given so that we could stain the cells in order to see them under a microscope. The microscopes we used were the compound microscopes.

We also got to see different microscopes, among them was the fluorescence microscope.

Another activity we did involved science photography. We were using compound microscopes and taking photos of things that we picked from outside. I took a picture of a wattle flower using the camera. It was very cool seeing the details in the flower bud and also seeing the yellow of the flower.

Overall this week has been amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed my behind the scenes experience at GTAC. Thank you to all the wonderful people here. This week is one that I definitely won’t ever forget.