Earlier this year, at the ‘Great Bideford bakeoff’ there was an outrage as one of the contestants had been experimenting with the yeast they were using to bake the bread. The suspects for the mutant yeast were Mary Berry, Gru and Donald Trump. It was our job to help year 9 pupils from various schools in the south-west to figure out who developed the mutant yeast strain.
There were 2 stations to help figure this out; the PCR station, where DNA from the yeast was analysed, there was the microscopy station, where yeast cells from each suspect were stained and examined under the microscope. There was the blood pressure and blood sugar level station in the CRF downstairs to help understand how excess sugar can ultimately lead to high blood glucose levels and high blood pressure.
I was helping out in the microscopy station, acting as a MIW agent. There were several different chemicals that the children used to stain the yeast cells, and they had to decide which helped them to see the yeast best, and compare the samples from each suspect to decide which looked different to the others.
It was eventually found that Mary Berry was the one who had developed the mutant yeast strain that was no good at making bread rise, and the pupils confirmed this by PCR analysis of the yeast also.
It was a great day few days, and hopefully, by getting access into working research labs and being able to talk to researchers in the building, it inspired at least some of the year 9 pupils, but most of all, hopefully some of them realised that science is fun!