12 October 2023
Mrs Emma Petty, Head of Biology
On Tuesday 10 October, Sixth Form biology students immersed themselves in the world of scientific inquiry at a botanical paradise both educational and awe-inspiring - Wakehurst Place in West Sussex, which houses some of Earth's most precious secrets.
The highlight of our trip was the Millennium Seed Bank, a remarkable institution that safeguards the future of our planet's biodiversity. At the time of our trip it contained seeds of 2,456,532,314 plant species and the number grows each day. Some of these species are now extinct, only existing in gene banks such as this. It was a reminder of the importance of preservation.
Wakehurst Place boasts the highest biodiversity on the planet, a fact that became evident on a conservation walk we took, marvelling at trees that are extinct in the wild, surviving only in sanctuaries like Wakehurst. This living museum not only preserves endangered species but also gives hope that one day species extinct in the wild may be able to be reintroduced.
In the Wakehurst lab, students donned lab coats and goggles to experience DNA testing, a technique used to combat illegal timber trade. Loading the gel required a steady hand and a keen eye for detail. The hands-on experience not only enhanced our understanding of biology but also highlighted the real-world applications of classroom knowledge. Beyond plant biology, gel electrophoresis can be used in forensic investigations and many other branches of science.
We were incredibly lucky with the weather, a sunny day really bringing out the beauty of the surroundings. Integrating the specification to a real-world context clearly showed how biology can be applied and the importance of conservation was evident throughout the day.