Opening new eyes to science

August 2013

Foundation Year Biology student Raisa inspects her zebrafish under the microscope

Monash University Foundation Year Biology students joined more than 2,000 students who have conducted experiments in breeding and raising zebrafish during the fourth year of the BioEYES Australia program.

The unique week-long program, adapted from the successful US version by staff at Monash University's Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute and the School of Biomedical Science, exposes students to scientific method as they take responsibility for caring and observing their own zebrafish, formulating hypotheses, making observations and drawing conclusions from data. Students study the inheritance of pigment in zebrafish in practical classes and see first hand their development and growth.

Student Yuan Bach (Steven) Nguyen said he "loved the program" for its emphasis on practical learning.

"Before I studied, I only knew about the theory of developmental biology. Through the BioEYES program, I was able to put this into practice by collecting and observing my eggs and watching them develop."

Classmate Li Sin (Raisa) Wun agreed, describing the program as very enjoyable and "very different" to the style of learning she received in her home country of Hong Kong.

"In Hong Kong we don't have many opportunities to use scientific equipment as classes are more about note-taking and listening to the teacher. During activities such as BioEYES, I have regularly used scientific materials and equipment such as the microscope, which has enabled me to apply my knowledge to perform experiments and research."

"It was amazing to see the embryos grow in front of my eyes – I felt like a mother watching her babies grow up! I want to study pharmacy at Monash one day so programs such as BioEYES really help to develop the skills I need to achieve my dreams. "

BioEYES is an innovative, hands-on approach to teaching students about developmental biology, stem cells and regenerative medicine through the use of live zebrafish. BioEYES aims to develop students' enthusiasm for science education, and inspire them to consider research science as a potential career choice.

The Monash University Foundation Year program helps international students make a smooth transition into university by developing study and learning skills important for success.