STEM Talk

Last week I gave a talk at Redland Green School after being put in touch with Alastair Hilton. It was linked to British Science Week which runs for ten days. The talk covered:

  • An introduction to me
  • Innovation
  • Cloning
  • Ethics

For me, I talked about being qualified as a biochemical engineer and the variety of jobs that you can do with that moniker. Innovation covered the differences between it and an invention (the former has a market). We talked about our favourite inventions, ways to create something new and how to protect your idea.

I moved onto clones and we discussed what they were and how they were useful. Twins too. The history of cloning starts from plants and moves through the decades from the fifties:

  • 1950s - frogs
  • 1963 - Asian carp
  • 1996 - sheep
  • 1998 - cow
  • 2001 - cat
  • 2003 - rabbit

We then watched part of the documentary 'Moving the Giants'. It tells the story of  arborist David Milarch who clones the world's oldest trees, Coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) to combat climate change. The final section covered ethics where we debated some new scientific interventions as well as how we decide if something is ethical.

  • 2006, the US approved the consumption of meat from cloned animals
  • Experiments are currently legally carried out on leftover human embryos from In Vitro Fertilisation, but these can only be held for a maximum of 14 days under legal frameworks.
  • The beaver disappeared in mid-late 18th century. Beavers have been successfully reintroduced to Knapdale in Scotland. Unofficial populations are thriving in the River Tay and its tributaries. They have also become established in the River Otter in Devon.
  • 2016: approval for three parent baby. Mitochondrial replacement therapy uses healthy donor mitochondria to replace the faulty ones.
  • 2017, it was reported that the Wooly Mammoth could be ‘reborn’ by creating a hybrid with the Asian elephant

We had a full room and lots of interaction, including a few 1:1 questions at the end.