On January 9, Biology Master’s students found themselves in class, no surprise there, except that this time, it was their turn to teach! On the program: antibiotics for elementary school students, microbiota for high school students and genome for college students. This project, called 'Forum biosciences', is part of the course 'Biosciences and society' and is intended to help students be aware of science issues in society. The "exchange day" gave the ENS students the opportunity to work on a long-term group project and to experience how to promote science to a larger public.
The fifth grade pupils went on a day trip; direction: the Monod campus of the ENS de Lyon, and more precisely, they visited a training room used for practical work in the Biology Department. The goal: to discover the mechanisms of resistance to antibiotics. Putting themselves in the shoes of the researchers (wearing lab coats), they found the effective antibiotic against «golden staph» (Staphylococcus aureus) through practical and fun activities: scale models, experiments in the laboratory, observations on microscopic preparations. This day also helped raise awareness amongst this young audience about public health problems resulting from failure to comply with antibiotic prescriptions.
7th graders connected up to an online forum, not from their class but from a theater in their high school set up especially for the occasion. The Master’s students presented many aspects of intestinal microbiota through interactive workshops: models, board games, observation of buccal and yoghurt bacteria. Pupils working in small groups and two or three Master’s students had the valuable opportunity to exchange on various subjects during the workshops. Using innovative tools, the forum meant that the high school pupils could study advanced topics: immunity, ecosystem and interspecies relations, hormonal and nerve communication. It was the opportunity to have a scientific and ethnic discussion, more specifically, through increasing awareness on the effects of antibiotic overconsumption.
The high-school students in their 1st year of Science studies got to visit a real lab: the LBMC (the Biology and Cell Modeling lab) where the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system was presented to them. The interactive and fun workshops were created and organised by about 15 students, and the secrets of these «genetic scissors» were revealed. Scale models, interactive quizzes, games on the touchpad and observations in the fluorescence microscope: many innovative teaching tools were used to help the college students understand the potential of this transgenesis tool that will be part of the future … and whilst they were at it, to dismiss some myths concerning GMOs.
Well done to our students! They knew how to rise to the challenge by adapting to the respective level of the different school pupils finding a fun and interactive way to teach science using techniques that will be revised in class during the forthcoming year. This high quality work was managed by Léa Rambaud, Mehdi Doumane (monitors) and Romain Berardozzi («agrégé» trainer) under the responsibility of Jean-Nicolas Volff, deputy director of the biology department, with the collaboration of the French Institute of Education (Ifé). This contact with the world of higher education and research will certainly give some ideas for future vocations, amongst the degree students and even for the young pupils!
The CM2/fifth grade class of Sylvie Verney, «Ecole des Anémones», La Duchère, Lyon 9th district.
Two seventh grade classes of Olivier Guipponi, «Collège Honoré de Balzac», Vénissieux.
The high-school students in their 1st year of Science studies of Delphine Sommier, «Lycée la Martinière-Duchère», Lyon 9th district.