Leavers Blogs from the Lab_13 Irchester Committee

Its the beginning of the school year and that means 4 new members of the Lab_13 Irchester Management Committee. But, before we welcome them, here is the goodbyes from the four members who left us this summer term to go to secondary school. Thank you to all the Year6 students who have given their everything to Lab_13 during their time in Irchester!

20140114_154952Sean’s Leavers Blog

Lab_13 was one of the greatest and most memorable experiences in this school. Honestly, I’m not sure where I would be without the lab- I wouldn’t be so enthusiastic and confident, I would have been so excited to come to school, and the list goes on. Mrs Tyrrell and Miss Hogan, our two science teachers, put tons of effort into making our science lessons fun and practical… their work paid off perfectly- our school wouldn’t be such a fun place without them!

 I was extremely sad to hear that my days of the Lab_13 committee were ending and, although I would like a change, I wish I could stay for years onward. If your school has a Lab_13 committee, try your best to get onto the committee if you want many great experiences. If your school hasn’t got a lab of any kind, you’re missing out!

20140114_155033Rosie’s Leavers blog

The time has come for the year 6 committee to hand our jobs into the -hopefully- capable hands of the year 4’s. I am devastated that my time on the committee has gone by so fast, but I have had a great time meeting new people and new friends and I am grateful for that. Being on the lab has been a great experience for all of the year 6s and I will miss everyone when I leave for secondary school. I hope that the year 5s on the committee now will share their experience with the year 4s as we did them. I have always been perfect but now I am extremely perfect- jokes! My confidence has grown immensely on my time on the committee; I have stood up and performed my part in the lectures. I have been passionate about getting more girls interested in science and ran numerous Girls in STEM workshops. I will miss everyone but I believe that I have done my part in the lab and that is what I think that matters. 

20140114_155436Ellie’s Leavers’ blog

Now it’s time for the yr6 committee to go we have done our work but it’s time to hand our job over to some new recruits. Lab_13_ has built my confidence as we have had to speak to lots of young and older people, the lab is a fun and exciting place to be but is a lovely working space for all of the school to come and ask questions and also to learn in.

We have also done Girls into STEM I loved inspiring younger children especially girls to get more invoked into science. My time in the lab has been fab and I can’t wait to take my skills up to Wollaston. Maybe I will start a Lab_13Wollaston there!


20140114_155145Nicholas’ Leavers Blog

My amazing experience.

I enjoyed Lab__13 because it gave me the responsibility to feel happy and brave. I could talk in front of over 400 children and not feel an ounce of fear. I would recommend it to anyone for the fact that it changes you and makes a courageous, smart, happy responsible child. It has rules, as everything does: it is a STRICT management committee only. If you want responsibility Lab__13 is your committee. A favourite to me is the trips our trip was the Lab__13 lectures, this was fun because talking slow, rhythmic, and emotional made me feel strong and brave. We talked about the science of smiles but I remember little of that so I am not going to touch on it. The greatest description of Lab__13 is that it is like a bonsai tree it demands constant attention and love, you should never miss trimming or it dies, never over water it, or underwater it. Never forget to go to see it on Monday lunch or Tuesday afterschool or run the risk of it dying and letting someone else take the job.

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Lab_13 Scientist of the Year 2014

At the end of Year 6, Irchester Primary School celebrates the achievements and successes of the children who are leaving our school to go on to secondary school. We hold a very glamourous event “The Oscars” where every child gets to walk down the red carpet in front of their friends, parents and teachers. Each year we give a Lab_13 Scientist of the Year award which goes to a student who has been on the Lab_13 Management Committee and whose commitment and passion for STEM goes above and beyond anything ever expected of them.

The 2014 award went to someone who had an incredible impact both in this school and outside of the school gates.  He is inventive and innovative and always coming up with amazing ideas – be it to do with advancing science and technology, new clubs to run, new ways of managing the lab, you name it and he has a new and improved way doing it.  Such was his commitment that, once, he even handed in a letter of resignation to his class teacher so that he could work full-time in Lab_13. The next day he came in his suit and set up his office and got to work.


His communication skills are second to none – giving a neuroscience lecture to over 400 local children, presenting Science experiments at EVERY Open Evening, giving countless interviews to people interested in Lab_13 and features in many of our Youtube videos- notably The Chicken Whisperer.  He was a pioneer of Dads Club, bringing his Dad, his tiny sister and on occasion even his Grandad.  Even as a Year 4 he came up with the idea of the Sherlock kits and managed to get funding from the local Rotary Club.

He has shown excellent leadership and delegation skills and if he doesn’t know the answer or how to do something then he definitely knows how to find out or who to ask!  I have no doubt that this guy will go on to run a multibillion pound STEM corporation – he’s just that kind of guy!  I am very proud to tell you that the Lab_13 Scientist of the Year 2014 award went to Jake Harrison!

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It’s almost back to school time and before all the Lab_13 kids start blogging again I thought I’d update the blog with a project I’ve become involved with. I’m Jennifer, the scientist in residence at Lab_13 Irchester by the way!

ScienceGrrl is an organisation that celebrates and supports women in science. The aim of the group is to develop a network of people who are passionate about passing on our love of science on to the next generation and promoting gender equality in science. Now, if you’ve read this blog before you’ll know that that is something that the girls in Lab_13 Irchester are very passionate about too! The founders of ScienceGrrl wrote an excellent report on gender equality in science here and it is an excellent read for anyone interested! 

Before I joined Lab_13 Irchester I was a researcher in sustainable biotechnology and I was the only girl in the whole lab that I worked in. So I feel quite strongly about gender equality in STEM and felt that this network would be perfect for me and I could help inspire girls into STEM through it too. I looked around for my nearest chapter and found that there isn’t one in Northamptonshire yet but that the Oxford chapter was just getting started. On Tuesday, we had our first meeting and it was so great to meet all the other ladies who were as passionate as I am about inspiring girls to be scientists and engineers etc. We had members from a variety of different disciplines from computer science to helicopter engineering to biomedical science and we all left the meeting so excited about our shared vision for the ScienceGrrl Oxford chapter! Our next meeting is in Sept/Oct so if anyone reading this is interested in joining or would like to come just send me a message on twitter @Lab_13Irchester and I can let you know the details. Or, if you are a teacher, let us know what kind of things you might like from a local ScienceGrrl Chapter. 

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Quail Physiotherapy

At Irchester, Roxy gave some quail eggs to the lab to hatch. After just two weeks of incubating the first quail hatched. We now have 3 lovely little quail chicks. However, one of these chicks (the little stripy one) has spraddle leg. This means that his hips were dislocated when he hatched and both went flat out to the sides rather than being staright underneath hime and he is not able to stand or walk properly. Miss Hogan research how to treat spraddle leg and now we are all trained chick physios! The first thing we had to do was strapy the chicks legs together. He doesnt really lying on his back but it’s the easiest way to get the steristrip on. Then we have some physio exercise that we must do several times a day. The first one is putting him into a narrow glass with no room to lie down. We used a tubberware cup but stuffed the other side so that he can only stand. As the chick doesnt like being in the glass he pushes up with his legs straight underneath him to try and get out. This is a good way of strengthening the muscles that he needs to keep his legs straight underneath him when he stands. The second exercise teached him how to balance. He is used to balancing on his tummy and pulling himself along with his legs but we teach him how to walk correctly by putting his little body between two of our fingers and allowing him to walk forward without falling over. We are gently taking the weight of his body while he works on moving his legs forward. Our chick is improving but we have to keep a very close eye on him. Hopefully he will be able to walk properly in a few days.

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Good bacteria – lactobaccilus

Collage (2) As part of our Dirty Stinky Children project we want to know all about microorganisms – the good, the bad and the ugly! We have learnt a lot about infections and diseases, rotting and decomposing and how our bodies protect themselves from disease but then we went to the lab to find out how some bacteria are useful.
We made yoghurt with lactobaccillus bacteria. The function of the lactobacillus is to ferment lactose (milk sugar) to produce lactic acid. The increase in lactic acid decreases pH and causes the milk to turn a bit more solid and into yoghurt.
First we had to measure out 400mLs of milk and add 30g of dried milk for added lactose. Then we heated it to kill any microorganisms that might have entered from the air. We waited for it to cool down to 40degC and added 30g of a starter culture. Our starter culture was a natural live yoghurt. Live yoghurt means that the bacterial cultures inside are still alive. Then we mixed it very well and put it in a water bath over night at 40degC. When we checked in the morning our milk solution had been converted into yoghurt!

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Swabbing the School (Irchester)

Collage (1) We swabbed different parts of the school searching for bacteria. To do this we had to make agar gel.The way this works is the bacteria feeds on the glucose in the nutrient agar which makes them grow into a colony very fast. Even though we can’t see microorganisms, colonies of them are visible. Then we can use graph paper to roughly calculate what % of the agar is covered with microbial colonies.
We made agar gel by mixing 4g of agar powder with 200mls of water. After we mixed the solution we heated it up on a Bunsen burner, we waited until it boiled then we had to quickly remove it from the flame before it frothed over. We left the solution for about 10 minutes to cool down. After the liquid cooled down we had to quickly pour it into several petri dishes where it would set.
The next day we swabbed different parts of the school to see how much bacteria on it there was. We took samples from the keypad at the door, the office phone, the PE mats, the tap, the water fountain, Mr Lett’s pen, a Year3 door handle and our own fingerprints. The, we left the agar plates in a cool dry place for 6days. When we checked again we were astounded at our results. Just as we had predicted there were a lot of different types of microorganisms around our school and even on our fingers! The colonies were lots of different colours, shapes and sizes showing us the range of microbes that are living around our school!

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Kids Conference Results – Hawking Table & the T in STEM

IMG_20140624_121227On our table the topic was the T in STEM – technology. We think that technology is becoming way more important in school and with coding and computing being in the news a lot. We discussed how our schools and labs used technology and which hardware and software were good or bad.
Some of us mentioned that we liked Scratch from MIT. Both Irchester and Gillespie run CodeClubs and are used to using Scratch. It is easy for beginners and young children. Irchester spoke about using python and html coding but Alessandro said that they thought it was boring. So, we introduced Alessandro to Ashton one of our top coders and they spent lunchtime playing with Python, using the Raspberry Pis that we have and guess what!? Alessandro said it was actually fun! We recommended that Dovecote start a CodeClub and that Gillespie buy some Raspberry Pis. Gillespie told us all about the 3D printer that they had. They used it for some very interesting work and said it was a fun lesson and so we think that we might try get one too.

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