Geneskool members Hakhamanesh “Hawk” Behmanesh, Hema Ratnasami, Sally Ou and Victor Hernandez visited Timberline Secondary to show students real-life applications with genomics and genetics. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Geneskool gives students real-life look at genomics

Solving murder just one scenario that program brings to Campbell River school

Some local secondary students helped solve a murder recently – not a real one, but as part of a program to learn more about genetics.

The provincial organization Genome BC Geneskool brought a team to Timberline Secondary on Monday, May 13 to show applications of how biology can help with real-life situations involving genetics and genomics, the branch of molecular biology focused on genomes.

“We do workshops in schools teaching students genetics, trying to get them more interested in science,” says Geneskool member Hema Ratnasami, who did her undergraduate work in biochemistry and molecular biology at UNBC.

In one block with teacher Dan Klinka’s Grade 11 students, Ratnasami and colleague Hakhamanesh “Hawk” Behmanesh ran the students through a crime scenario in which six friends go on a three-day canoe trip in northern B.C. and one of them is murdered. Meanwhile, Sally Ou and Victor Hernandez were running through applications with students in Natasha Ubriaco’s class next door.

For the murder scene, the Geneskool team used props and information to lead the students through steps to help them solve the crime.

“A lot of these activities tend to be very hands-on,” says Behmanesh. “They tend to work together as a team trying to solve the mystery. At the same time, they’re learning about techniques that real scientists would use every day.”

The process starts with background information about the canoe trip participants, including the victim, then moves on to using footprints as a way to reduce the number of suspects. From there, the students use blood type to further zone in on who was responsible, ultimately getting the number down to two.

“Once they start doing the testing, they start narrowing it down,” says Behmanesh, who is studying undergraduate biology at UBC.

From there, the class uses gene mapping as a way to differentiate the suspects and point out the guilty party. Ratnasami says students typically end up heading in the right direction when it comes to the clues.

“They’re pretty smart,” she says. “They come up with great theories with all the evidence that they’ve gathered.”

RELATED STORY: Campbell River students get their hands on some molecules

The members of Geneskool are studying in fields of science themselves, so it offers them an opportunity to share what they are learning and already know with younger students in the hopes of inspiring them and showing them how science relates to real life.

“These are undergraduate students,” says Klinka. “This is something they’re doing to expand their own educational opportunities.”

He appreciates the chance to bring in the university students to help show his secondary students how biology and real life intersect.

“It’s just a cool opportunity to showcase different types of hands-on learning,” he says.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Hema Ratnasami goes over analyzing blood samples with the students. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

To start off, students inspect a diorama of the crime scene on the canoe trip. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Just Posted

Campbell River RCMP issue statement in support of a peaceful rally and against racism

The Campbell River RCMP issued a statement in support of a peaceful… Continue reading

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Campbell River karate instructor takes lessons outside the dojo

Northwest Shito-Kai’s Nigel Nikolaisen embracing alternative teaching methods during pandemic

Nine passengers on first flight after Campbell River airport reopens

Pacific Coastal flight 715 arrived from Vancouver on Tuesday morning

Danger tree removal work in progress along Sayward Highway 19

Delays up to 30 minutes expected between 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 5

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Mirror business directory and map

If you’d like to be added to the list, shoot us an email

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Alert Bay resident carves tribute to his community kicking COVID-19’s butt

‘Our little village crushed the curve with love and commitment’

End of an Era: Tofino hair studio closes shop

“We were getting excited to start ramping up and then all of sudden we had to close our doors.”

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Most Read