Thursday, 5 June 2014

DAY 3 REFLECTIONS

Plenary session?
The talk was on 3D printing by Professor Tan Ooi Kiang. During the talk, she shared with us the effects of how 3D printing has greatly impacted the world. We learnt that the term "3D printing" is just a layman term and this process also goes by many other different names. There are seven different types of 3D printers so far and they are usually classified into two groups. One group is for commercialisation purposes while the other is strictly for lab use. We found out that 3D printing has been around for some time and it is only recently that it has begun to be used on a more extensive scale. 3D printing can be used for almost anything, ranging from fashion, to cars, and to food! It was intriguing to see how 3D printing can be used even for the building of an entire car. Doctors, surgeons, to be more precise, use it to estimate how to go about the surgery. Other than for surgery, it is also widely involved in the making of hearing aids. It makes the process easier as it is not only time saving, but it also means human intervention, making it less prone to errors and measurements being more accurate.

How I feel about the NTU Flagship programme?
I think it was quite a unique experience for me. I got the opportunity to experience and learn new things and I believe whatever I have managed to learn would benefit me in time to come.

How the programme has affected my understanding of the discipline? Here are my insights.
 It certainly widened my outlook on life and has taught me more about technology and it's many uses. It is incredible what technology can do for us and it is going to be hard to imagine life without it. I understand that teaching fourteen year olds is a great contrast to the students that they normally teach. The Professors, lab assistants and teachers were all equally patient and understanding towards us, and I am extremely grateful. I am thankful that SST has given us a chance to be educated in this area.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

DAY 2 REFLECTIONS

What I did.
On the second day, we were tasked to carry out more practical, hands on activities. We received our lab results and from there, tabulated and made data. Upon doing so, our Professor briefed us on some presentation criteria and we then made a presentation based on the data and the overview of the project. We were then given samples of bacteria smears to look through the microscope. 

What did I learn from today?
I learnt about the different types of bacteria and how dangerous some could be. We learnt how to cultivate and isolate bacteria by inoculating and we also got to find out which type of bacteria are present in canteen trays. Also, I learnt about presentation skills. Not only has it enhanced my awareness of bacteria, it has also made me more mindful of hygiene. Seeing the clumps of bacteria growing in the agar plates is disturbing and I vow to put into practice greater hygiene measures.

How I feel about today's activities?
Well, today had slightly more activities than Day 1 and we got to do more, so it was fun.  Being and working in the lab has truly been a memorable experience.

How may this discipline be applied else where?
This experience impacted me greatly. After realising how much bacteria can be found on any particular surface, I am convinced that I will never look at things the same way again. The positive outcome, is that I am now more cautious about hygiene and will think twice before touching or consuming any potentially unclean substances. 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

DAY 1 REFLECTIONS

What I did.
Today we put the bacteria samples from the cutlery into agar plates. The Professor and Lab Assistants also gave us extra samples to play around with, and we were hence told to be "creative". We did have a lot of fun testing out the many different places in which we could swab the Q-Tip on.

What did I learn from today?
For the theory aspect of today, I learnt more about how bacteria is classified and how the different shapes are named.

As for the practical aspect, I learnt about the measures and safety precautions that are implemented in the lab. It was interesting knowing about the different precautions that needed to take place and it was an enjoyable experience playing around with the agar plates, Q-Tips and methylated spirit lamps.

How I feel about today's activities? 
I guess it was a new experience that involved a lot of learning. All in all, it was productive. This experience would help educate me on appropriate lab rules which I find would come in handy in the future, when I next enter a lab.

DAY 1

1. What are bacteria? List down some characteristics of bacteria.
They are a kind of unicellular micro-organisms.
Bacteria can be classified under three main groups, based on shape. The groups are, rod shaped, round, and spiral. Both the spiral and rod shaped bacteria are mostly motile and have a flagellum attached to them. The other kinds of bacteria have rod-like protrusions known as pili that serve as tethers.


2. How can bacteria be identified?
There are two common ways. One is known as Gram Staining. The other is Ziehl-Neeson Staining. Like it's name suggests, both involve staining the bacteria with different substances a in order to separate or remove certain protein coats of the bacteria.


3. Name three common bacteria and places where they can be commonly found.
Streptococcus Pyogenes (sore throats and rashes). Vibrio Cholerae (found in uncooked food substances). Bacillus Subtilis (milk, cream, and cheese).


4. Are all bacteria harmful? If not, name some bacteria beneficial to humans.
No. Streptococcus Thermophilus (strengthens immunity and helps improve functions of the gut). Bifidobacterium Animalis (Aids in the digestion process and can also be taken as a supplement for irritable bowel syndrome and constipation). Lactobacillus acidophilus (Used to boost immunity and also present in many probiotic supplements).