Zoe’s blog

The variety of microscopes that GTAC owns is incredible. Dr Fran Maher helped us to use a basic compound light microscope to observe slides of garlic roots that we created and stained to observe if any of the chromosomes were in any stage of mitosis. These microscopes were a lot like the ones we use at school. However later we used a more advanced compound microscope which had more magnifying power. The more advanced compound microscope also allowed us to see on a computer what was viewed on the lens so we could all observe. We were also able to take pictures of cells with a digital camera designed to attach to the microscope.

Zoe-image-1Dr Fran Maher allowed us to look through the lenses of a very special microscope called a florescence microscope where we viewed an animal skin cells. The special light allowed us to see incredible detail of the cells and we were able to observe it in three strong dimensions with varieties of distances as opposed to viewing it on the compound microscope where it is nearly only two dimensions. Inside the cell we could observe the organelles and we found that the cell had two nuclei which is extremely rare. The organelles we observed were 3 colours which nearly looked neon. The nuclei were blue, the cytoskeleton was green and the mitochondria was red.

The most impressive microscope I saw is called a Scanning Electron Microscope and it has a magnification of x30000, however we only needed to use up to x5000. Dr Nicole Webster took us out to collect samples so we could view them under the SEM. Essentially we placed a small part of the sample or, if it was small, the whole sample on a tiny round tray and put it in the SEM. In order to get the incredible view the microscope pulls all the air out of the drawer containing the sample. The SEM that we used showed the sample on a screen, in my case it was a red berry. I controlled the viewing on it with the mouse and the controls on the side of the microscope. The results were incredible.

Zoe-image-2We used a stereo microscope to observe the bacterium that we placed on agar plates. The bacterium I grew was from my fingers, my mouth and a light switch in a bathroom. We also used another agar plate, which we made from scratch, to use a method called streaking. We used E.coli, a modified bacterium designed to thrive on agar plates, to do the streaking.

Zoe-image-3During my work experience at GTAC I have learnt a bit about being a teaching scientist and what jobs are involved. However I was mostly educated about DNA and DNA testing, how chromosomes are structured and what the scientific equipment is used for. I have certainly enjoyed my time at GTAC.