Sixty-seven of the top Grade 11 and 12 learners from schools across South Africa, as well as some from Namibia, participated in Winterweek this year at Stellenbosch University. They visited the Genetics, Biochemistry and of course the Microbiology Department, to get an insight into what it is like to be a student in science. Dr. Wesaal Khan, Jenade Lynch, Veronique Meyer, Kathryn Wirth, Rosemary Dobson and Lalie Kossatz  assisted the learners in learning about the field of Microbiology.

Kathryn gave an overview presentation on the different types of microbes, their role in our lives and how we are more bacterial than human! During their first experiment, learners sampled at different locations in the Neelsie, as well as the area around the B-block parking lot; afterwards they were given the opportunity to culture the microorganisms in their samples, either on agar plates or in a broth medium. In the second experiment Veronique demonstrated how baker’s yeast converts glucose to carbon dioxide and can produce enough gas to fill a glove.

To demonstrate epidemiology the learners used some investigative skills and deductive thinking to determine which “Game of Thrones” character infected nearly all of Westeros with a mysterious disease… In addition to these experiments, there were microscopes set up around the laboratory with various microbial cultures and prepared stains that could be viewed. On the second day, the learners could see microbial growth on their agar plates and they were very excited about the “bugs” that they had cultured. It was great to see how enthusiastic the learners were about Microbiology and they had a lot of fun participating in the different activities.

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