Bringing bioinformatics to schools with the 4273pi project

Stevie Bain*, Heleen Plaisier*, Felicity Anderson, Nicola Cook, Kathryn Crouch, Thomas Robert Meagher, Michael Gordon Ritchie, Edward Wallace, Daniel Barker*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Over the last few decades, the nature of life sciences research has changed enormously, generating a need for a workforce with a variety of computational skills such as those required to store, manage, and analyse the large biological datasets produced by next-generation sequencing. Those with such expertise are increasingly in demand for employment in both research and industry. Despite this, bioinformatics education has failed to keep pace with advances in research. At secondary school level, computing is often taught in isolation from other sciences, and its importance in biological research is not fully realised, leaving pupils unprepared for the computational component of Higher Education and, subsequently, research in the life sciences. The 4273pi Bioinformatics at School project ( aims to address this issue by designing and delivering curriculum-linked, hands-on bioinformatics workshops for secondary school biology pupils, with an emphasis on equitable access. So far, we have reached over 180 schools across Scotland through visits or teacher events, and our open education resources are used internationally. Here, we describe our project, our aims and motivations, and the practical lessons we have learned from implementing a successful bioinformatics education project over the last 5 years.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1009705
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2022


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