Community service is an integral part of personal growth and an educational principle to embrace. Through community service, a person would find themselves exposed to different lifestyles and environments which would raise awareness of the less fortunate, be it financially, emotionally or the dissemination of knowledge. In return, the experience itself ensures the individuals are well aware and grateful of the information gained and disseminated. Such an essential component is embedded in the Applied Biotechniques in Biotechnology and Community Health module of Semester 6 of the IMU Medical Biotechnology programme, where students are required to carry out a community service project in raising awareness on the microbial community on various surfaces in a school. The school visited in January 2019 was SMK Sains Alam Shah, Cheras where two visits were carried out.
|Collection of samples|
|On the sample collection day, environmental samples were collected such as soil or liquid samples from various sources (field, canteen table, drain, student lodging, handrails, etc.). The samples were stored in plastic containers for further testing and analysis. Testing and analysis of the samples were carried out in the IMU laboratory by the students for a period of two weeks with tests ranging from macroscopic and microscopic observations, inoculation on various agar (blood, centrimide, MacConkey & nutrient), Gram-staining, biochemical tests (catalase, coagulase and oxidase tests) as well as molecular analysis utilising polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and gel electrophoresis. A myriad of microorganisms was identified from the samples, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterococcus, etc., to name a few. The results were tabulated and presented in a form of a poster and oral presentation.|
|Presentation of Results to the Students|
|On 30 January 2019, 200 Science students of the targeted school attended the presentation of results in the school hall. The presentation highlighted the impact of the microorganisms, the testing and analysis done. Moreover, basic sanitation techniques were enforced to ensure students could employ the necessary steps in reducing exposure that could disrupt their body’s normal microbial flora. In addition to the presentation, there was a quiz with ranging levels of difficulty to test their understanding and add to the hype, to which all 20 questions were answered correctly by the winners. They were given prizes and the event ended with snacks for all students.|
All in all, the community service project was a success in providing the target group of Forms Four and Five science students with an understanding of the need and purpose of exposing the presence and necessary information of the microorganisms living in and around us. This further peaked their interest in appreciating the contributions of research and science.
The project also benefited the Medical Biotechnology students in enforcing various techniques learnt from previous semesters in the application on microbial identification as well as a sense of pride in being able to impart knowledge for the betterment of the community. This further strengthens the need for Medical Biotechnology to be introduced to communities of various levels as this field never ceases to contribute to growth of science and community health. Written by Ruben A/L Amirthalingam Photos Credits: Dr Wong Chiew Yen