A window on science

During the autumn, the Faculty of Science introduced a brand new initiative: ‘Window on Science’. Upper secondary school classes from the entire region will be coming to the university to carry out laboratory work in science subjects.

With pipettes and lab equipment set out on the benches in front of them, the pupils sitting in the lab at Botanhuset are almost ready to tackle the tasks they have been given. Pupils from Sigrid Rudebeck Upper Secondary School in Gothenburg and Mimers Hus in Kungälv listen intently as researcher and teacher Henrik Aronsson goes through the day’s experiment.

“At a crime scene, forensic scientists take DNA samples to identify the culprit,” says Henrik, who is project manager for Window on Science. “What they analyse there is inconsequential DNA, waste DNA, which differs from person to person. But we’ll be using a different technique today to differentiate between different DNAs, and you’ll be studying three samples to identify the bacteria that has infected a host organism’s wound.”

Viktoria Wall and Carolina Rönnewall from Mimers Hus in Kungälv

Viktoria Wall and Carolina Rönnewall from Mimers Hus in Kungälv

But first, the pupils practise using pipettes correctly. Three girls from Mimers Hus bend their heads together and succeed in sucking up fluid using a long pipette. One of them, Viktoria Wall, notes that it works well, even if the pipettes are a little more advanced than the ones they use at school.

“I don’t know whether I want to specialise in science, but it’s exciting and interesting being here,” says Carolina Rönnewall, who is sitting next to Viktoria.

Together with their classmate Carolina Jansson, they will soon embark on the actual laboratory work which involves listing which bacteria is the culprit by cutting apart DNA and then comparing the pieces.
“This is a fun task,” says Carolina. “We’ve seen how they test DNA in American films, but we didn’t actually know how DNA tests are carried out.”

Her teacher Glenn Börjesson stands nearby, explaining the task to another Group.
“This is an excellent initiative! It’s just a shame that more young people couldn’t come along. I know classes who wanted to come, but who didn’t manage to get any places.”

During the week of Window on Science, more than 900 pupils from classes around the region get to choose between different experiments: everything from conserving old artefacts or producing geological maps to analysing energy drinks or learning more about the sea.

“This is something the schools have asked for,” explains Henrik. “Pupils want to come and see what a university is, meet researchers and have the opportunity to carry out a laboratory experiment that they can’t do at their own school.”