On Friday the 11th of November 28 of our year 10 students were fortunate enough to visit the center for life for a special event on malaria.

In the morning they learnt about what causes malaria and created computer models to simulate its spread. By building in more and more layers of commands the students were able to create a model in which the mosquitoes bred in ponds and were attracted to humans close enough for them to ‘smell’. They then were able to simulate a variety of different control measure. While some of our students had great fun from creating models in which hundreds of mosquitoes were hatched and everyone was infected, the general consensus were that simple preventative measures such as draining ponds and using insect repellent drastically reduced the spread.

Next we heard from scientists at York Univeristy who have been working on creating a new breed of the plant we currently make malaria medication form. They explained how difficult it is to make enough of the drug as less than 0.1% of each plant can be turned into medicine currently. It was interesting to find out how many people had been involved with the project and how long it had taken them to create the new breed of plant. It was also amazing finding out how small the seeds were-2000 seeds would weigh one gram!

After lunch we took part in a DNA diagnosis workshop. The students used high level techniques and got experience using lab equipment worth thousands of pounds. They were able to run a DNA fingerprint to match the malaria DNA to one of several samples. This allowed them to decide which drug would best treat the patient.

We finished off with a trip to the motion ride. All in all it was a fantastic experience for everyone involved and a real opportunity to see how science is being used outside the classroom to better the lives of millions of people around the world.