Kickstart Science - Biology

Bring Biology back to life with a Kickstart workshop that is designed especially to support and enhance the HSC biology syllabus. Every workshop is totally hands-on and features real specimens that the students can see and touch - living plants and animals, preserved museum specimens and fresh tissue for dissection.

Each module in our Kickstart program is closely aligned with the HSC syllabus, and has been enriched by cutting-edge science and expertise from the research laboratories in the School of Biological Sciences. With access to a wide range of instruments and resources from our modern teaching laboratories, Kickstart gives students a real university experience in biology.

Modules offered:

Blueprint of Life

This workshop covers evolution and the genetics of inheritance using a wide variety of museum specimens and LIVE animals. Students learn by getting hands-on experience with the materials.

Support for theory of evolution:

  • Fossil caste of Archaeopteryx lithographica, showing transitional form between reptile and aves
  • A wide variety of animal skeletons that demonstrate homologous structures (eg: pentadactyl limb)
  • Convergent and Divergent evolution: activity to model convergent evolution under similar selective pressures and divergence of limb under different selective pressures, using museum specimens and LIVE animals

Genetics and Inheritance:

  • Morgan’s Experiments using REAL fruit flies – sex linkage of white eye trait
  • Determine ABO blood-type of REAL human blood to learn about co-dominant phenotypes

Dotpoints addressed from the Biology Stage 6 Syllabus Core – Blueprint of Life:

1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8


This workshop covers senses in humans and other animals. Students will explore human vision and hearing as well as comparing the different sensory organs of a range of animals. LIVE animals and fresh tissue for dissection make this workshop totally hands-on.

  • Using giant models and charts, students will investigate the anatomy and function of the human ear. Students will do a range of interactive exercises eg: testing human sensitivity to pitch, visualising sound waves with the cathode ray oscilloscope, using an otoscope to investigate each other’s ears
  • Students will carry out a dissection of a fresh cows eye to investigate the anatomy and function of human visual organs. Students will do a range of interactive exercises eg: testing colour perception and finding the blind spot.
  • Students will also carry out a dissection of a mammalian brain and identify the parts of the brain involved with receiving and processing input from the eye and ear.
  • Using dissecting microscopes and other tools students will investigate and identify the detection and communication organs in animals and relate these to the environment in which they are found. LIVE animals and museum specimens are used for this section

Dotpoints addressed from the Biology Stage 6 Syllabus Option – Communication:
2.1, 2.2, 3.2, 3.3, 4.4, 4.5, 5.4, 5.5, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, 6.6

Genetics: The Code Broken?

This module explores modern genetic techniques used in hospitals and laboratories to identify hereditary diseases. Set in the context of a young couple with a family history of Huntington’s Disease, students will perform a number of procedures to provide information to the family.


  • Use blood typing on real blood to identify ABO and rhesus blood groups, combined with pedigree analysis to understand modes of inheritance
  • Using real DNA and modern equipment used in molecular laboratories, students will perform ‘DNA fingerprinting’ to identify the mutations associated with Huntington’s Disease, and make predictions about its severity and onset
  • Analyse a pedigree and use linkage to determine alternative methods of identifying mutations in individuals
  • Identify issues related to the genetic counselling of individuals with familial disorders, including ethical considerations and testing options

Dotpoints addressed from the Biology Stage 6 Syllabus Option – Genetics: The Code Broken?:

1.1, 2.2, 2.4, 3.3, 5.1, 6.1


This module is a forensic biology exercise where students use the ‘tools of the trade’ to determine relatedness of individuals. Student will investigate polygenic inheritance and in doing so, develop a deeper understanding of modern genetics and biotechnology.

  • Perform first-hand investigation into the effect of pH on the rate of amylase activity (techniques: spectrophotometry)
  • Separate PCR products using gel electrophoresis (techniques: micropipette, gel electrophoresis)
  • Extract DNA from plant tissue (techniques: DNA extraction)

Dotpoints addressed from the Biology Stage 6 Syllabus Option – Biotechnology:

4.2, 5.3, 6.1


If there are other areas that have not been covered by the above topic areas please contact us to discuss your specific needs.

Contact: Dr Cecily Oakley
Phone: (02) 9351 4543
Fax: (02) 9351 2175

The Human Story workshop

The Discipline of Anatomy and Histology offers a workshop for The Human Story option of the HSC Biology syllabus, held in the Shellshear Museum of Physical Anthropology and Comparative Anatomy on the Camperdown campus. Housing the only collection of its type in Australia, the Shellshear Museum displays include human skeletons, primate skeletons, casts of skulls and skeletons of fossil human ancestors such as Australopithecus, Neanderthals and Homo erectus. The Human Story is a workshop that provides students with the opportunity to handle bones and casts of chimpanzees and human ancestors. Students are provided with a unique opportunity to compare the structure of human skeletons with those of primates and our human ancestors.

Contact: Dr Denise Donlon
Phone: (02) 9351 4529
Fax: (02) 9351 6915

Search for Better Health

The Discipline of Pathology offers a workshop on understanding diseases that aims to address the learning outcomes of 9.4 In Search for Better Health - NSW HSC Biology syllabus.

Year 12 students will be provided with mini-lectures, worksheets, lab work and a museum tour. In addition, students will have the opportunity to use our Interactive Software for Human Diseases.

More information and contact details are available at