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  

Genes of Change, February 2019


The European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS) together with HHMI BioInteractive, Science Education Department, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah invite European secondary school biology teachers to apply for the “Genes of Change: New Ways of Teaching Evolutionary Biology”, taking place at EMBL in Heidelberg, Germany between 18 to 20 February 2019. The course is free of charge and is in English.

The 2.5-day professional training course for European secondary school biology teachers will consist of a mix of seminars by EMBL scientists, hands-on activities, lab experiments, presentations of teaching resources and visits to the research facilities of EMBL. The course will focus on cutting-edge topics in evolutionary biology and explore new ways of how to transfer evolutionary concepts to the classroom.

The course will:

  • Introduce you to current topics in evolutionary biology research and get you in touch with research scientists
  • Explore the use of resources on evolutionary biology for student-centred learning
  • Familiarise you with free teaching resources from EMBL-ELLS and HHMI BioInteractive
  • Provide a platform to network and share your experiences with colleagues from European schools

The training course is organised by the European Learning Laboratory of EMBL (EMBL-ELLS) in collaboration with HHMI BioInteractive, Science Education Department, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah .

European Learning Laboratory of EMBL (EMBL-ELLS)
The European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (EMBL-ELLS) is EMBL‘s education facility, which aims to bridge the gap between research and schools. Multifaceted training activities and programmes allow European teachers and secondary school students to experience modern life sciences. They gain access to cutting-edge scientific research and get to know the people inside the laboratories. Besides continued professional development courses for teachers and the development of teaching resources, our activities include the EMBL School Ambassador Programme, projects with local schools as well as the school group visits‘ programme at EMBL. Visit our website for further information about our activities: http://emblog.embl.de/ells/

HHMI BioInteractive, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is a science philanthropy whose mission is to advance basic biomedical research and science education for the benefit of humanity. Through its BioInteractive initiative, HHMI provides award-winning multimedia resources, classroom activities, and professional learning to empower educators to inspire students to learn and care about the living world. BioInteractive’s classroom resources are freely available for download and distribution at www.biointeractive.org and www.biointeractive.org/es.

Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah
The Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah produces multimedia-rich, interactive, inquiry-based and learner-focused curriculum materials that bring science ideas and processes alive. We engage classroom teachers throughout the planning, development, testing and revision of these materials and provide professional development experiences focused on curriculum implementation. Our Learn.Genetics and Teach.Genetics websites constitute the most highly-used biology education resource in the world.



The first course day (18 February) will take place at the seminar room of the Hotel ISG in Heidelberg-Boxberg; the second and third day (19 and 20 February) will take place at EMBL Heidelberg.


Shuttle bus
For those staying in the hotel (see “Accommodation”), a shuttle bus will transfer participants between hotel and EMBL. Please note that there will be no shuttle service for getting from Heidelberg city centre to the Hotel ISG on the 18th February (first day) where the course starts. Participants are kindly asked to make their own way up to the Hotel ISG for the start of the course at 16:00 (see below).

Getting to Hotel ISG on 18th February
Instructions on how to reach the Hotel ISG can be found here: Travel to Hotel ISG

Getting to EMBL on 19th/20th February
General instructions on how to reach EMBL can be found here: Travel to EMBL Heidelberg The course takes place in the Advanced Training Centre.
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.

Leaving EMBL on 20th February
There will be a shuttle service taking participants from EMBL Heidelberg to the Heidelberg main train station after the end of the course.


Participants who do not reside in Heidelberg will be provided with single-room accommodation free of charge for 2 nights (18th and 19th February, i.e. Monday to Wednesday) at the Hotel ISG in Heidelberg-Boxberg. If you require accommodation, please indicate this in the application form. Please note that we cannot book accommodation for you if you have not indicated this when you apply.

If you require accommodation for additional nights, please arrange this directly with the hotel at your own cost.

Hotel contact details:
Hotel ISG Heidelberg
Im Eichwald 19, 69126 Heidelberg, Germany
Tel: +49 6221 38610
E-mail: isg@embl.de
Website: www.isg-hotel.de


Travel expenses to and from the course location in Heidelberg, Germany need to be covered by the LearningLAB participants.

We have a limited number of ELLS travel bursaries available to cover part of an individual’s travel expenses. These bursaries are aimed at participants who would have difficulties attending the course without financial aid. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please fill in the bursary section in the course application form.

Eligibility requirements for ELLS travel bursary:

  • Applicants must be active in teaching biology to 15-19 year old students.
  • Candidates of any nationality may apply but must be resident and work in the EU and associated member states.
  • Bursary recipients will receive partial support for their incurred travel costs upon completion of the course.
  • Only complete bursary applications received via the application form will be considered for review.

Bursaries will be awarded on the basis of:

  • Justification of use of the funds to support your attendance of the LearningLAB.
  • Demonstration of involvement with national (and possibly international) teaching networks and a commitment to sharing course materials through these.

After attending the course, bursary recipients are asked to provide a short statement describing the reasons for having applied for a teacher training course and travel bursary, the benefits of attending the course and the impact the course had on their work in the classroom.


Please ensure that you have read all course information and are confident that you can attend if your application is successful.

To apply, please fill in the following application form: Application Form

Application deadline: Sunday, 9th December 2018, 23:00 CET

You will be notified of the success of your application via email between 11th and 18th December 2018. If your application is successful and you have been invited to the LearningLab you will have a couple of days between 11th and 18thDecember to confirm your attendance by completing our registration form. So please make sure you have access to internet and email during this time period.

Maximum number of participants: 24; minimum number of participants: 14

Attendance and Cancellations

As we anticipate the ELLS LearningLAB to be very popular, we ask participants to only apply if they are certain that they can attend for the whole duration of the course. In case you need to cancel your attendance after having confirmed your participation, please notify us as soon as possible by  email, so we can give your place to somebody on our waiting list.

Cancellation fees

Please note that cancellations and non-attendance might jeopardise the viability of the course for other participants, and we may charge a course cancellation fee. If you indicated your requirement for accommodation, we will have booked a place for you in the course hotel. In case of a course cancellation less than 3 weeks before the course dates, the hotel will charge you for the first night of your stay.

Course programme

The preliminary programme may be downloaded here: 

Date: 18 - 20 February 2019

Application deadline: 9 Dec 2018

Topic area:  Evolutionary biology

Format: Face-to-face

Location: Germany

Contact: ELLS Team

Organiser: ELLS & HHMI & University of Utah