• Education

Centre for Innovative Bioscience Education (BioCEN)

Head
Jacek Patryn

Project Manager
Aleksandra Kot-Horodyńska

Laboratory Manager
Karolina Więcek


The Centre for Innovative Bioscience Education (BioCEN)
was established in 2002, and since then has been intensively working on the popularization of life sciences among Polish society. This ambitious goal has been fulfilled with the application of several educational activities: laboratory workshops for primary, junior-high and high school students, practical courses for school teachers, scientific training for business, open lectures for broad audience, and scientific shows for kids, etc. The successful functioning of BioCEN is the collective achievement of a dedicated and passionate team. The Centre for Innovative Bioscience Education is co‑founded by several institutions. The main financial support comes from the International Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IIMCB), which is BioCEN’s Strategic Sponsor. IIMCB not only covers a substantial part of BioCEN’s regular expenses but also participates in costly laboratory improvements. In July 2016 IIMCB financed a new air conditioning installation in BioCEN’s laboratory, which significantly improved the comfort of scientific workshops, especially those taking place during hot weather. In addition to IIMCBs generosity, the Centre for Innovative Bioscience Education is also subsidized by Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology PAS (IBD), the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics PAS (IBB), University of Warsaw’s Faculty of Biology, and BioEducation Foundation.


Workshops

BioCEN workshops cover various areas of life sciences, such as, molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, plant physiology, bionics, and medical sciences. We aim to encourage participating students to work individually, while performing real-life experiments. This is advantageous, as most schools in Poland focus on the theoretical aspects of biology, rather than an experimental approach and laboratory practice. It should be also noted, that over the last 16 years, more than 27,000 students have gained the chance to attend and take advantage of the workshops offered by BioCEN. Workshops generally take place at the Warsaw BioCEN laboratory, located in 21st Kołłątaj High School building at Grójecka 93. Workshops are divided into three main categories, relevant to the age of participants.

High Schools

• Synergy - the inner life of cells

• Protozoa as model organisms

• Explore your own DNA - examining DNA by PCR methods

• Protein fingerprints of different tissues

• Biotechnology of antibodies in clinical practice

• Miracles of biotechnology - purification of jellyfish protein from bacteria

• Cellular Superstructures

• Sentenced in accordance with the law of DNA

Junior High

• Yeast - a living micro-factory

• On the trail of DNA

• Do you know what you eat?

• Enzymes

Elementary Schools

• Green sugar factories - how photosynthesis works

• See DNA

• Acidic or non acidic?

• Secrets of food

• The secrets of fluorescence

• How much sugar do plants contain?


We are also developing several new workshops, such as “Histology, Embryology and Stem Cells”, with implementation planned by the end of 2017.
Due to the location of the BioCEN centre, access is somewhat limited to students living outside Warsaw. As such, the BioCEN team is ready to organize and implement  laboratory workshops outside its headquarters. We believe this move will be an effective way to increase life sciences awareness and scientific skills among a wider population, and therefore will be an important component of our program.

Professional training for business

In 2016 BioCEN entered a new educational niche –  practical laboratory courses for bio-tech business. The inaugural workshop took place in December 2016 and was attended by almost 50 employees working for Nutricia Polska Sp. z o.o. The course focused mainly on the biochemical characteristics of biological macromolecules, and their effect on human health and physiology. During the training all participants could perform experimental tasks individually, analyze obtained results, and develop final conclusions. Last but not least, all objectives, teaching methods, as well as participants’ knowledge and skill improvement, were positively evaluated by Nutricia management, and thus the cooperation with Biocen will be continued in 2017.

Professional training for school teachers

Laboratory course for teachers from the Nadma Primary School
One of our main goals is to improve the teaching skills of science educators working at all educational levels: primary schools, junior high and high schools. In November 2016, the Biocen team organized and performed laboratory training for teachers from the Nadma Primary School. This training focused on the application of scientific methods in the everyday teaching environment. Moreover, all participating teachers were shown how to perform relatively simple, and inexpensive scientific experiments. These can be undertaken in non-laboratory conditions, to the education more accessible and enjoyable for younger students.

 

15th Educational Symposium for Biology Teachers
This Symposium has become one of our foremost events, traditionally taking place during the first weekend in December. During this conference, biology teachers from all over the Poland have the opportunity to gain up to date information regarding front line discoveries in neuroscience, and become more familiar with cutting edge studies in 2016 such as those connected with the Nobel prizes in Chemistry and Medicine. Moreover, teachers have an unique chance to talk to academic researchers in person, which we believe reflects positively on the quality of their teaching.

Experimental Kits and other Scientific Tools

For those who are not able to take advantage of our workshops, regardless of circumstances, we have alternative options. BioCEN produces laboratory kits, commercially available through our website. All sets are fully equipped with the necessary chemicals, dishes, tubes, theoretical summaries, instructions, and protocols, needed by students to perform a particular experiment at school or at home. So far we have several experimental sets available.

• We are studying DNA

• The sweet world of enzymes

• Photosynthetic dyes

• A necklace with your own DNA

Additionally, we emphasize the idea of “learning while playing”, and as such we also produce high quality, genuine BioCEN educational board games:

• By the trails of evolution

• Dare to assemble your cell

Events

20th Festival of Science
As in previous years, the Centre for Innovative Bioscience Education participated in the 20th edition of Festival of Science, by organizing a weekend event titled “Light, colors and fluorescence – an unknown face of living organisms”.  BioCEN also proudly co-organized the massive 20th Festival of Science, “The Science Festival of a Young Man”. The meeting took place at the Warsaw University of Technology campus, and was an exceptional chance for the youngest (sometimes  only few years old) science buffs and enthusiasts.

5th Scientific Festival at 36th Bolesław Prus High School
In March 2016, Biocen was requested to co-organize the 5th Scientific Festival at 36th Bolesław Prus High School in Warsaw. In effect, Biocen prepared and carried out fully professional enzymology workshops for around 90 students. The main goal for this event was to apply a „learning while playing” rule in a limited time period, which was successfully achieved by joining  pure theoretical biochemistry with joyful laboratory entertainment.

3rd Educational Picnic in Mikołajki
The third edition of the Educational Picnic in Mikołajki, co-organized by BioCEN and Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, took place at the Hydrobiology Research Station in Mikołajki. This event was an exceptional opportunity to perform laboratory experiments and exercises, with over two hundred students from rural areas of the Mazury district in attendance. 

Educational Picnic at the Children’s Memorial Health Institute
The Centre for Innovative Bioscience Education is serious about its mission and is actively involved whenever the aim is noble and laudable. This is why Biocen decided, without hesitation, to participate in the Educational Picnic at the Children’s Memorial Health Institute. This event was not for profit, and Biocen covered all financial expenses.  However, it was priceless to be able, even for a moment, to introduce a little bit of happiness and joy into children lives, who suffer from serious, even terminal illness.

Forensic workshop for 3rd Unia Lubelska High School in Lublin
Considering Lublin is situated 200 km from Warsaw, this effectively prevents its younger population from taking advantage of Biocen’s programs. To address this problem, we organized a weekend workshop for over 50 high school students in Lublin. This was their first opportunity to individually carry out molecular experiments like DNA isolation, purification and electrophoretic separation.

Scientific Festival at 21st Kołłątaj High School
Since 2015, the Biocen laboratory has been located in 21st Kołłątaj High School. Due to this fact, it is quite natural for us to participate in any events organized by the school. In this case it was our pleasure and honor that we could share our scientific passion and enthusiasm with members of the local community.