Bug-busting team rise to national challenge

The Northern Echo: Emmanuel College biology teachers James Ward and Patricia Carruthers with their nationally recognised learning resource Emmanuel College biology teachers James Ward and Patricia Carruthers with their nationally recognised learning resource

BUG-BUSTING biology teachers from the region have taken first and second place in a national challenge to find best practice bacteria and antibiotics education.

Resources developed by Patricia Carruthers and James Ward, who teach at Emmanuel College, in Gateshead, were judged to be the best in the e-Bug European Antibiotic Awareness Day competition, run by Public Health England.

Patricia used her design and sewing skills to make model microbes from felt, straws, balls and Velcro to show how antibodies, bacteria and antibiotics work, and supported by a PowerPoint presentation and teaching plans.

In our bodies, white blood cells produce antibodies to destroy bacteria but this can be a slow process; antibiotics act much faster to keep pace with bacteria that can reproduce every 20 minutes, before our natural defences kick in.

"Being able to visualise what you're being taught and then do something with what you are seeing definitely helps learning," explained Patricia.

"My entry included information on the activities teachers can do with the resources in the context of a lesson, for example, our students designed posters for a hospital waiting room," she added.

Runner-up James, who was a video editor before training as a teacher five years ago, entered a film he made about DNA, cloning, evolution and antibiotics, part of which used animated models to explain about how bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics.

The full video, which is aimed at students studying GCSE biology, has been viewed more than 8,000 times on YouTube. Judges described it as "imaginative" and making "complex science understandable".

James said: "It would be letting children down if we only relied on text books and didn't use the full range of resources available to us. Text books still have a place in the classroom but there are lots of other, more interactive ways of getting things across."

Emmanuel College has a strong record in science subjects with a number of students each year achieving A level results qualifying them to study medicine and other science-based degrees at top universities. The teachers won a total of £650 in the competition, which will go towards buying iPods to be used as learning resources in sixth form lessons.

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