Frequently Asked Questions
What does the ABE programme offer?
- Hands-on training in current molecular biology techniques and experiments
- Educational material such as PPT presentations and manuals ready to use for your classes
- Professional laboratory equipment & reagents that you can borrow for your school FOR FREE
- Real-time technical support for your ABE classes
Who is eligible?
Every Irish Secondary school teacher can participate in the Amgen Biotech Experience programme. We recommend the programme in particular to teachers of Transition Year, 5th and 6th year Biology and Chemistry classes. We have also tailored content in line with the new Junior Cycle specification.
Is there an associated cost?
Participation and loan of equipment and reagents is free of charge. Please note that we do not reimburse travelling costs.
How do I sign up?
Please email ABE-Ireland@ucd.ie with your name, contact mobile number, school name, address and contact telephone number.
What happens after I sign up?
We will confirm the receipt of your contact details and will let you know about upcoming training courses. Workshops for teachers who have never used our equipment, or teachers who would like to come to refresh are usually offered in September / October each year. Once you have attended the training, you are eligible to book equipment and reagents for your own classes. With this equipment, your students can then perform molecular biology experiments and experience how scientists work.
Can my colleague pick up the kit for me?
Yes, you can send your colleague or friend to pick up the kit from any of our distribution centres. Please let us know in advance if someone picks up the equipment on your behalf.
What if I cannot return the equipment on time?
Please contact Ann-Marie Barry, Technical Support Officer in advance to arrange a new return date.
I am going to pick up my kit on Friday and I will not be back to the school until Monday. Will the samples be ok?
The gels (practice & electrophoresis) as well as the DNA samples for Labs 2, 3 and 4 need to be stored in a fridge or similar cool environment (e.g. boot of car if outside temperatures are between 1 to 10 degrees). Restriction enzyme aliquots for Lab 3 and Ligase & Ligase buffer aliquots for Lab 4 need to be stored in a freezer. When using fridge or freezer other than the one in the school laboratory, places samples in a sealable plastic bag before storing them away.
Can the gels be reused?
Only the micropipetting practice gels for Lab 1 - Micropipetting can be reused if necessary. In this case, rinse out the wells and submerge gel in water until the next usage. Gels that have been used for DNA gel electrophoresis (Lab 2 and following) cannot be reused. After usage, they need to be placed in the waste bags provided and returned back to ABE for a disposal.
What can I do to make sure I see the bands on the gel?
There are few things you can do to improve the quality of the DNA bands: Make sure your blue light is switched to the higher intensity (press the button with a bigger bulb). Place your gel electrophoresis equipment in a shaded area of the classroom or switch off the light in the room. Remember: Always unplug the electrophoresis device before moving it. Use a camera to take a photo of the gel. They may be more visible on your camera screen. If you have used the grey insert when loading samples, replace it with the black insert once the DNA has traveled into the gel. For your next class, increase the amount of sample DNA. We advise loading 10 μl, however 15 μl might improve the visibility of bands.
Can I train my fellow teachers and let them use the kit?
We can only allow teachers who have been trained by us directly to perform ABE classes at their school. If your fellow teacher would like to use the ABE equipment for their class and they were not able to attend our training, you or another trained teacher will have to be present when your fellow teacher’s class is doing the ABE experiments. Please encourage your fellow teacher to shadow you during the ABE experiments in your own class and to contact us with regards to future training opportunities.
Can I use Lab 3 and 4 only?
Lab 3 and 4 are more advanced and should only be used by teachers who already have performed Labs 1 and 2 at their school. It will be possible for you to book equipment and reagents for all four Labs in the next academic year.
I did the training already last year – can I book the ABE equipment this year without further training?
Ongoing training and professional development is a very important part of our programme. Therefore, we require at least one teacher per school to attend the training once per school year in order to be eligible for equipment booking. If you already completed training, it would be best to encourage a fellow teacher to attend this time round. For advanced laboratory exercises (i.e., Lab 3 and Lab 4), you will need to attend the training yourself though.