European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences

Our inspiring educational experiences share the scientific discoveries of EMBL with young learners aged 10-19 years and teachers in Europe and beyond.

On-site LearningLAB  

Biodiversity in focus, April 2016


The European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS) invites European secondary school science teachers to apply for the ELLS LearningLAB “Biodiversity in focus – exploring the barcode of life”.

The 2.5-day professional training course for secondary school science teachers will offer an introduction to selected DNA technologies and provide opportunities to explore how these can be transferred to and used in the classroom. The course runs between 27 and 29 April 2016 and is free of charge. The course will be in English and will take place in the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Heidelberg, Germany.

The course will consist of a mix of seminars by practising scientists, hands-on activities and visits to state-of-the-art research facilities at EMBL. The programme will cover a range of scientific topics and highlight established DNA-based technologies that are regularly used in molecular biology laboratories and that can be employed in the biology classroom to illustrate concepts found on modern school biology curricula.

During the 2.5-day course, a combination of seminars, discussions, hands-on activities and visits will:

  • Introduce you to selected laboratory techniques like polymerase chain reaction (PCR), agarose gel electrophoresis and bioinformatics analysis to demonstrate how they can be used in a school laboratory;
  • Provide opportunity to pursue a biodiversity project based on DNA barcoding;
  • Update your knowledge on current biological research and offer plenty of opportunities to interact with research scientists;
  • Illustrate a range of classroom activities and experiments, and equip you to use the presented resources to support your teaching of biology;
  • Include visits to research facilities at EMBL and to a restored quarry of HeidelbergCement;
  • Allow you to network and share your experiences with teacher colleagues.

Download the LearningLAB poster as pdf here: 

Location/ Travel


The 2.5-day course (27 – 29 April 2016) will take place at the EMBL Advanced Training Centre (EMBL ATC) in Heidelberg.

Single-room accommodation for participants will be provided in Heidelberg (preferentially for participants who do not reside in Heidelberg).


General instructions on how to reach EMBL can be found here: Travel to EMBL Heidelberg

If you arrive by taxi, ask the driver to be dropped off in front of the EMBL Advanced Training Centre (ATC), which is the circular glass building (rather than at the entrance of the main building).

Shuttle bus

For those staying in the hotel, a shuttle bus will be provided, transferring participants between hotel and EMBL or the quarry, as appropriate. Please refer to the course programme about information when a shuttle service is provided. Please note that there will be no shuttle service for getting from Heidelberg to EMBL on the 27th April (first day) and participants are kindly ask to make their own way up to EMBL for the start of the course at 15:30 (see below).

Getting to EMBL on 27th April

For getting to EMBL for the start of the course it is recommended that you take a taxi from Heidelberg town centre (e.g. Heidelberg main station) up to EMBL.

There is a taxi rank just outside the main station and the ride should take around 20 minutes and cost between 12 and 15 Euros. Ask the driver to be dropped off in front of the EMBL Advanced Training Centre (ATC), which is the circular glass building (rather than at the entrance of the main building).

In case you arrive early and want to explore Heidelberg town centre, you could also take a bus/tram into Heidelberg town centre from the main station (bus 32, 33, 34 or tram 5, 21) – which takes 5 minutes – and get off at “Bismarckplatz”, which is located at the start of the main pedestrian street and old town. There is a taxi rank at Bismarckplatz and the ride to EMBL takes around 15 minutes.

Car parking

If you travel by car, please use the free car parking lot “P1” on the left hand side as you arrive in Meyerhofstraße. You will find the ATC building at the top of the footpath leading up the hill.


Application is now closed.

Following your course application, you will receive an email in due course notifying you whether your application has been successful and you will then be asked to confirm your attendance by completing our registration process.

Application deadline: 16 March 2016 (10:00 am CET) – early registrations are welcome and are more likely to be successful.

Acceptance notification date: 21 March 2016 (latest)

Maximum number of course participants: 24

Minimum number of course participants: 15

Registration fee: none


We are pleased to offer three bursaries to assist with travel costs. All applicants must be active in teaching biology to 16-19 year old students. Candidates of any nationality may apply but must be resident and work in the EU and associated member states.

Bursaries will be awarded on the basis of:

  • explanation of the relevance of this course to your teaching;
  • justification of use of the funds to support your attendance in the LearningLAB;
  • demonstration of involvement with national (and possibly international) teaching networks and a commitment to sharing course materials through these.

How to apply for a bursary?
Once you have been selected to participate in the course, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to submit your application for a bursary.

If you are accepted for a bursary, you will receive partial support for your incurred travel costs upon completion of the course.

Course programme

Course overview

  • The course starts on the 27th April at 15:30 CET and ends on the 29th April at 16:00 CET.
  • Scientific presentations by practising EMBL research scientists and biodiversity experts of HeidelbergCement
  • The seminars and hands-on activities will focus on the use of modern DNA-based laboratory techniques
  • Guided visits to research facilities at EMBL and to a restored quarry of HeidelbergCement to assess biodiversity
  • Perform experiments and discover teaching resources for the classroom
    • experimental kits
    • educational games
    • classroom activities
  • Platform to network and share your experiences with teachers colleagues.

Course programme

Course participants may view and download the course programme. Please note, you will have received the required password in our email correspondence.

Date: 27 - 29 April 2016

Topic area:  Genome biology

Format: Face-to-face

Location: Germany

Contact: ELLS Team

Organiser: ELLS & Heidelberg Cement