The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland
Cutting-Edge Science in Zurich

By Jane Wilson ’22

On Wednesday, November 3, the Higher Level IB Biology II class departed for our Academic Travel trip to Zurich. The purpose of the trip was to enhance our practical knowledge of genetics, which we had just finished studying in class, refining our lab etiquette in the process. As many of the students in the group are interested in pursuing careers in STEM, our trip provided a glimpse into life at a university that conducts cutting-edge research, lying on the perimeters of human knowledge. During a lecture titled “Focus on the Brain” with a professor of neurobiology at the university, the professor reaffirmed that there is so much that we don’t know in the natural sciences and so much progress to be made; that’s where the IB Biology class comes in and indeed all young people with a commitment to STEM.

Below is a pictorial account of our four-day trip.

Wednesday, 15:01

Time to depart from the TASIS Gazebo and make our way to the station. 


Wednesday, 17:57

We have arrived at Zurich HB and make our way to the hotel.

Wednesday, 18:12

A glimpse into our international group as we wait for check in. 

Wednesday, 19:03

We go for a walk down Bahnhofstrasse before dinner and meet Steve Jobs outside the Apple Shop!

Thursday, 8:46

We make our way to Campus Irchel of Zurich University.

Thursday, 8:52

We enter the university’s Life Sciences Lab and prepare for our day.

Thursday, 9:23

We practice using a micropipette as we prepare for our gel electrophoresis lab.

Thursday, 11:24

We perform a gel electrophoresis lab to differentiate between patient samples genetically predisposed to developing Alzeimer’s disease. 

Thursday, 16:05

We make our way into the Anthropology museum at the university for a tour.

Thursday, 16:19

We compare the mandibles of a human and an ape during our tour. 

Thursday, 16:56

We stop for a group picture at the end of the tour. After this we make our way to the anatomy labs, where no pictures are allowed!

Friday, 9:32 

We spend another day at the university’s Life Sciences Lab. This time we perform genetic crosses with Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies), which involves sedating the flies with carbon dioxide guns. Some of us enjoy this lab more than others.

Friday, 15:47

We make our way back to the center of Zurich for some free time.

Friday, 18:17

Time to stop for smoothies in Zurich’s Old Town.

Saturday, 13:35

We quickly make our way to the station to catch our train back to Lugano after a Life Coaching Workshop.

Saturday, 14:07

We discuss IB classes, chemistry IA’s, and university plans with this backdrop.

Saturday, 15:03

We change trains at Arth-Goldau. We are in a reflective mood on the ride home. For many of us, this will be one of our final Academic Travel trips; some of us have been going on trips together since grade 5

To me, being a “good” scientist means bridging what is portrayed in a textbook with tangible learning. What is science without experimenting? Moreover, practical lab exposure cements what is learned in the classroom; we won’t have trouble remembering gel electrophoresis on our IB exam! All of us agree that this trip provided us with time to spend with friends and a glimpse into our futures at university pursuing STEM.



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