Biological Sciences


Projects and events for Schools.

A Question of Taste is a full day hands-on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) workshop, run at the National Museum of Scotland.
A Question of Taste is a full day hands-on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) workshop, run at the National Museum of Scotland

Biotechnology Workshops

National Museums Scotland School's Programme - A Question of Taste Workshop

We deliver an annual programme of practical curriculum-linked biotechnology workshops for secondary school pupils studying Higher and Advanced Higher Biology or Human Biology. 

A Question of Taste is a full day hands-on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) workshop, run at the National Museum of Scotland as part of the Museum’s schools programme. Pupils discover and compare their version of a bitter taste receptor gene (their genotype) to their ability to taste the bitter compound (their phenotype). 

Using real laboratory equipment, pupils carry out the techniques of DNA extraction, PCR, restriction enzyme digestion and gel electrophoresis. The workshop incorporates time viewing relevant parts of the Museum science galleries. 

Workshops take place from October to December and must be booked directly with the Museum (from mid-August). 



Biolabs on Campus

This project hosts pupils studying Higher and Advanced Higher Biology or Human Biology on campus for a day.

Pupils take part in a practical DNA profiling experiment (involving the techniques of micropipetting and DNA electrophoresis) in our biology teaching labs, visits to research labs, and chats and activities with researchers and PhD students.

Targeting low-SIMD (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation) schools, we usually deliver several days in June and November/December in the short windows when our teaching labs are free during school term time.



Bioinformatics Engagement and Resources

4273π website

The 4273π project develops and delivers bioinformatics education and public engagement, with an emphasis on secondary schools, further education colleges and links to the secondary biology curriculum. The project provides Open Educational Resources, visits to schools, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities for teachers, guest teaching on initial teacher training programmes, and public events. Our workshops use a mix of free public resources online, computers or tablets and the low-cost Raspberry Pi computer to provide a genuine research computing environment for investigating DNA sequences.



Midlothian Schools STEMFest

This evolved from the former Midlothian Science Festival, and takes place annually in October for schools in Midlothian region. We deliver a programme of hands-on biology workshops for P5-P7, and Cell Biology and Bioinformatics workshops for secondary schools. Midlothian Council advertise the programme to Midlothian schools in August/September.


Other Primary School Engagement

We also deliver Biology workshops for local primary schools in low-SIMD areas of Edinburgh for STEM weeks or in response to requests. E.g. DNA extraction or ‘MicroArt’, a science-art microscopy workshop. During the pandemic, this included online after-school STEM workshops, with free kits delivered.


Widening Participation

Widening participation website

School staff and students regularly deliver activities for primary and secondary school pupils as part of the University's Widening Participation programmes, including both campus and school-based activity. Widening Participation aims to address educational inequalities and patterns of under-representation in Higher Education (HE).


Cell Biology Engagement

WCCB public engagement

The Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology is committed to engaging the public with research and is involved in a variety of public engagement activities including activities with schools and teachers.  


Stem Cells Engagement

Centre for Regenerative Medicine public engagement

The Centre for Regenerative Medicine is involved in a wide variety of public engagement activities with key audiences including teachers, patients, policymakers, journalists and other interested publics. A variety of resources can be found on the EuroStemCell website.



Plant Sciences Engagement

Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences has an enthusiastic team of researchers and PhD students who deliver a range of activities related to their research.

Plant sciences outreach


Parasitology Engagement

‘Biology on Tour’ brings the science (and scientists) of mosquito and malaria research, to Scottish primary school classrooms.

Reece Lab on Tour 


Gene Jury

Gene Jury website

The Gene Jury website provides a suite of learning resources, activities and links to support learning in primary and secondary schools around the relevance and impact of genetics on society.