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On 6 March Year 13 Biology students paid a visit to the Biology labs of University Campus Suffolk (UCS) to participate in a “Journey through the nervous system” led by Dr Federica Masieri and Dr Aida Rajic.

Dr Masieri described the basic structure of a motor neurone and then went on to explain how the actual structure of the nervous system is far more complex, with cells such as glial cells supporting the highly specialised neurones by carrying out their basic functions.

The students were shown many slides of different components of the nervous system including a cross section of vertebrae where the central canal was visible. Oliver, Henry and Rupert ably demonstrated the protective role of cerebrospinal fluid with a ‘tofu experiment’ and the students were interested to learn that the spinal vertebrae are thought to be remnants of body segments from a distant common ancestor shared with worms!

Finally the students were able to get hands-on with the UCS microscopes. These are much more powerful and finely tuned than school microscopes, meaning that a much clearer view of the tissues were visible than students had ever seen before. A series of microscopes had been set up in order to create a fascinating journey through the nervous system, starting with simple neurones and leading through the vertebrae to the cerebellum and cerebral cortex.

This was a fascinating opportunity to see what university lab-based teaching might be like, as well as to consolidate their knowledge of the nervous system in preparation for their A Level exams.

The Biology Department would like to thank UCS for their hospitality and is delighted to invite Dr Masieri and Dr Rajic back to RHS to give a MedSoc talk entitled “Stem Cells: It’s a kind of magic!” on 20 March, 4.30pm in the library.

Students getting hands on experience

Taking a look through the microscope

Students enjoying the practical experiment

The Royal Hospital School is a co-educational boarding and day school for 11 to 18 years olds set in 200 acres of Suffolk countryside overlooking the River Stour. http://www.royalhospitalschool.org