Secondary schools get DNA tools

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 April, 2004, 12:00am

Science training at some secondary schools in Hong Kong and Shenzhen may get a strong boost through the acquisition of DNA analysis equipment.

The hi-tech gear will allow students to analyse DNA in human hair and genetically modified food.

St Paul's College, a direct-subsidy school, has bought a set of DNA analysis instruments known as the HybriMax DNA Teaching Laboratory, from its inventor, Hong Kong DNA, at a cost of $200,000.

The school's principal, Timothy Ha Wing-ho, hopes the hands-on experience provided by the equipment will encourage students to develop a greater interest in science.

'The few Chinese scientists who are Nobel laureates developed their interest in the field while they were in school. Being exposed to good teachers is also very important,' he said.

The same equipment is getting a trial run at a Shenzhen school, according to Joseph Tam Wing-on, the director of Hong Kong DNA.

Negotiations to acquire the same equipment are also underway with several other schools in Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Dr Tam, also an honorary professor with the University of Hong Kong's biochemistry department, will train about 50 mainland teachers in Beijing next month on using the equipment.

'No other place in the region has got the equipment,' he said. 'The local system has put too much emphasis on knowledge and not enough on actually letting students have hands-on experience.'

He is planning to arrange for secondary school students to help carry out research with university professors during the summer.