On the 21st of February, Year 12 Biology A Level students had the unique opportunity to visit the Orihuela Campus of the Miguel Hernandez University, put a lab coat on and carry out a ‘real experiment’ in one of their specialised ’Animal Production’ laboratories.
The activity, that Year 12 completed, is part of the program ‘Estudia un día en la UMH’ that aims to improve students' knowledge and laboratory skills by participating in active learning and student centred laboratory experiences.
The focus of our Year 12 Biology students' research was the evaluation of male fertility by a comprehensive semen analysis, which represents an excellent example of a real-life scenario where Biology and Science really matter. During this hands-on research experience, the students learnt and applied several standard laboratory methods to investigate semen quality through the evaluation of macroscopic and microscopic parameters. Parameters such as sperm morphology, motility, vitality (vital staining) and numbers were assessed following the World Health Organisation (WHO) standardisation guidelines, which were in place to ensure an objective evaluation of the semen quality for diagnostic purposes.
The most important aspect of the practical lesson is that it perfectly aligned with the new Biology Year 12 A Level syllabus and covered the two key points seen below. It was also a core practical, belonging to Topic 3 – Cell Structure, Reproduction and Development, which is the topic that is currently being taught.
3.7 (i) know how magnification and resolution can be achieved using light and electron microscopy
(ii) understand the importance of staining specimens in microscopy
3.8 CORE PRACTICAL 5
(i) use a light microscope to make observations and labelled drawings of suitable animal cells
(ii) use a graticule with a microscope to make measurements and understand the concept of scale
3.11 Understand how mammalian gametes are specialised for their functions (including the acrosome in sperm and the zona pellucid in the egg cell)
It was an invaluable experience for the biology students and they enjoyed the practical and 'hands on' activity immensely.
Miss Rebeca Gonzalez, PhD
Science and Biology Teacher
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