The Science Department was very excited this morning when a huge box was delivered containing a new piece of equipment that will help teachers and students to undertake microbiological experiments.
With the new IB Biology syllabus taking effect at the beginning of last year, a whole array of new teaching requirements have arisen, with particular emphasis made on the teaching of microbiology and biotechnology. With the aim of providing as many hands-on learning opportunities as possible, Ms Novick and Dr Erard, the Biology teachers, have identified the need of adding an autoclave to the excellent Saint Maur International School Science facilities. This is an automatic steam-heating system that allows the sterilization of culture media and equipment (loops, pipettes, and glassware).
Given the relatively high cost of such a machine, the Science Department called upon the financial contribution of the Parent Support Group (PSG), which promptly responded and even proposed to fund the entire purchase. We would like to sincerely thank them for their support in facilitating this enhanced learning opportunity for the students.
Until now, and only for limited applications, teachers had used a pressure cooker placed over a Bunsen burner as an alternative but the obvious health and safety concerns, as well as practical limitations (temperature, timing, cooling-down time…) seriously undermined the possible applications in class. Thanks to this new piece of equipment, students will now be able to undertake experiments such as performing and analyzing microbial growth (bacterial identification such as Gramm staining, colony-forming-unit counting, plotting of growth curves, environmental sampling, antibiotic susceptibility experiments, competitive inhibition etc.). The autoclave will also provide an opportunity to provide real-life applications in several Biology topics at all grade levels within units on classification of life, cells, immunity & disease, populations, and biotechnology.
In addition to providing endless opportunities for IB individual and extended essay investigations, the safety provided by the autoclave will also allow students in middle and high school to understand microbial growth and familiarize themselves with ascetic growth techniques early on.
We will be looking forward to put this new piece of equipment into use during the next academic year., Stay tuned for some exciting reports on further applications!