Irchester Lab_13 management team say “See you later”!

Our Year 5 management committee members  have come to the end of their term running the lab. Here, they say goodbye and tell us a bit about their best bits and hopes for the future.


I can’t believe that it is time for me to leave. I have had a good hard time working for the committee. My experience in the management committee has been amazing. It has encouraged me so much to look into science in so much detail. I’ve learnt so much about science but also about managing a lab.  Two qualities that I really needed to have and develop were responsibility and teamwork. I have had to work with others and motivate myself  so many times that I am an expert at these two qualities. Having mentored the Year 6s, we are leaving them to train our new year 5’s that will be announced this Friday. This week has been very emotional for me and possibly the hardest week we’ve had. We have had to choose 8 people to interview from Year5! My best part in the lab_13 has been being in charge of decisions, making new friends and working to get things done. The days on the committee have been the best time of my life and we have had a series of events. The biggest event was the Lab_13 lectures that weren’t that long ago. It’s very sad us leaving but it is time. We do hope that the new year 5’s have as much fun as we have and they work as hard and always try their best for Lab_13.


I don’t want to leave the Lab_13 committee but we have to so that new children can have the same exciting opportunity that I have had since last summer.  I have had a good time and hard time working for the management committee. It is a lot of responsibility and our decisions and ideas really matter. We hope the new committee gets on well and we will pass on our knowledge and experience of being on the committee.

Being on Lab_13 committee has made more confident. I used to be very shy and quiet and I never thought I could stand up in front of a crowd to say hello never mind give a lecture on neuroscience and anatomy in front of a 400person filled audience while doing the lab_13 lectures!! I hope that these new skills will help me when I grow up!


Unfortunately, my time on the committee has come to an end. I have had a wonderful time in Lab_13. To be a Lab_13 committee member you need to be able to work well as a team.  I mentored Rosie on of the Year 6s when she started and at first we found it difficult to get on but we overcame this and now we hold the record for doing the snails in the fastest time! Learning to get on with jobs and responsibilities was very important for me. I also became more organised as I had to remember when the meetings were, what my jobs for the week were, how to keep the minutes etc. It is good to be confident too. My favourite parts were doing the lectures and writing the funny and scientific compere script with Nicholas. I also like doing the different range of jobs each week from blogging, to resources, to snailcare! I hope we in Lab_13 have inspired all the pupils of Year5 and that they carry on the fantastic work!


Unfortunately the time has come for me and the three other year 5’s to hand over our jobs to four other year 5’s. I have had a memorable time but there have been the challenging parts as well. I have done everything from announcing the Gold Award (a weekly award we give to reward great science!) to going to the Big Bang Fair with the lab. Lab 13 is the best thing that I have ever been picked for in school. More than often people think that Lab 13 committee is a place where you get a hoodie and do extra science. It is…but so much more too. You write blogs, you look after snails and chicks, you go to major science events, as well as running them (!!), you host other schools, you mentor new Lab_13s, you ask for funding, you use your ideas to promote the lab, you tweet, you manage school science resources, you do media relations! All I can do is wish the best of luck to whoever replaces me and the other three. It’s a big responsibility but an EXCELLENT one!





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Going outdoors – Science CPD

We hope we can spread the Irchester science approach to as many children as we can!
This week, Lab_13 Irchester hosted another exciting CPD event for local teachers. 20140401_173104This time, we had over 20 teachers from lots of different schools come to learn about how to bring more outdoor work into their science teaching from EYFS to Year6. There is a big focus on going outdoors and exploring seasonal change in the new science curriculum and we, at Irchester, want to help other teachers make the most of this exciting new change and have more confidence in bringing science lessons outside of the classroom!

Luckily, the weather was sunny and warm and perfect for all of us to go outside to see how schools grounds, fields, wildlife areas and even small patches of flowers can be used for teaching many aspects of science.  The teachers loved it and gave some great feedback! 20140401_181024They all recognised the impact of actually doing science not just learning it and enjoyed the practical aspects of the course – just like the kids would!



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Science Poetry from Charlotte in Irchester

Charlotte is in Year 5 and wrote this poem to show how she thinks of science and the way we explore the world around us.
charlottes poem

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Science Filming in Irchester


Last Friday, the teachers of Irchester school were filmed in their science lessons.  This was so other schools around the UK could see how our teachers teach us science.

Both Year 6, both Year 4, a Year 1 and a reception class were all filmed during a science lesson. Some were taught conducting experiments, some were planning their own investigations, some were analysing results and some were exploring. The thing that they all had in common was that the children were allowed ask their own questions and that’s what they investigated in practical work. Our teachers are very good at allowing us to be the scientists!

They also filmed in Lab_13 where children were working with Miss Hogan and all of our teachers and scientists were interviewed. Some children even gave presentations on some
their past work such as Year5s talking about the science of Fibonacci that they discovered during science and art week and Year 1s spoke about how they used technology and art to explore the science of the Northern Lights.

The week after, the filming crew created a three minute quick video of different classes being taught and even giving their own perspective of their work. We watched in assembly and were very proud of our teachers and the whole schools approach to science. Now, Edison Learning (a company which promotes excellent teaching) are putting the video onto a disc so teachers around the world can see what science lessons in schools should really be.

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We have chicks!

20140303_145021 20140326_135759In Lab_13_ Irchester we have recently accommodated 20 chicken eggs. Due to the success of our first hatching experience last year, Friends of Irchester Community Primary School were very kind and bought us a chick kit. It contained an incubator, a brooder, a feeder, a drinker and everything you need for hatching chicks. We bought 20 fertilised eggs from Mini Meadows Farm who specialise in rare breed chickens. When we candled them we found that only 16 were fertilised.
20140326_135110Thanks to the expertise of Robin –during Dads Club-we had a web cam to watch the chicks overnight. We used a raspberry Pi, knex and a special camera to do this. If you want to see how the chicks are doing you can watch them on this

IMG-20140324-WA0002Early on Sunday morning, we were excited to see some small, wet, dark things on the camera. Our chicks had started to hatch! Miss Hogan went in to move the chicks to the brooder in case they damaged the other eggs. We now have 12 chicks. There are still 4 eggs in the incubator but as all the other chicks hatched between Sunday morning and Monday night we don’t think that the chicks in these eggs will hatch. Maybe they died in early development.

Just like last year, we ran a Sponsor an Egg competition in school where people could choose a numbered egg and hope that it hatched first. The first chick that hatched was sponsored by a Year 2 boy called James Orson; guess what we called the chick … Orson! Orson hatched on Sunday the 23rd March 2014 when we saw him we were very excited and delighted.

IMG_20140327_11580320140326_135819 IMG-20140326-WA0005We want to use the chicks to help us learn. Foundation stage children have been writing notes to them welcoming them to Lab_13. Year 5 are using the chicks to model the particle theory of solids, liquids and gases – the chicks are excellent at modelling diffusion! We are also doing ‘chick fractions.’ Chick fractions are fractions we made up to distinguish each chick from one another. For example 5/12 of all chicks have fluffy legs but just 1/3 black chicks have fluffy legs.
We are also monitoring the change in average weight of dark chicks to yellow chicks over time to see if there is a difference between their growth. Ond day 2 they all showed a huge jump in weight. They increased by almost half in 24hours.
20140326_135931 20140326_135945


Furthermore, we are doing a chick design competition to see who can design the best toy for the chicks based on our knowledge from last year that they love shiny reflective materials and food!
We are very excited about having our chicks!

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Gillespie news – goodbye chicks, visitor from the Guardian

GOODBYE CHICKS!!! Chicks just before they left

Sadly the gorgeous chicks are saying good bye to us and leaving Gillespie School. We think it is heartbreaking naturally, because they were born at our school, moreover we don’t want them to leave. This will be very depressing for the children also the teachers as well.

Look at the bright side though, they will have more additional space to move around furthermore they will have a chance to see the world. The lovely chicks will become pets.

Gillespie visitor from The Guardian!!

Our visitor from The Guardian newspaper, Alok Jha, came to talk to us in assembly last week about his wild adventure in the South Pole!  He showed us pictures of penguins, seals and other amazing creatures. He told us about his scary trip, when he got stuck on his ship because of all the ice. There were lots of questions about what it was like. Carole will send any more that we think of by email, which Alok kindly said he would try to answer. Thank you Alok!

Written by Kareema and Martha (with a bit of help from Carole as Martha had to leave early for a maths trip!)

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Lab_13 Lectures 2014!

IMG_6702Last week was the biggest thing this lab_13 committee have ever done –Lab-13 lectures. This was the second time Lab_13 Irchester did the lectures and it was just as successful as last year. Miss Hogan says that the seats were booked up very fast this year maybe due to the good feedback we received from schools last year. We had just under 400children from Year 5, 6 and 7 attend from 9different local schools. We were nervous but very excited!!

IMG_6727First we performed our lecture “LOL-The science of Laughter”, in which we talked about the psychology of smiling, Duchenne de Boulogne a French scientist who studied smiling and the muscles used when laughing, as well as, get this, smiling makes you live longer .The children learned a lot about laughing, smiling and the anatomy of amusement. IMG_6744Ellie definitely knows about them as Madison used her face to demonstrate where all the muscles Kiera was describing were. There were definitely a lot of them! Rosie conducted an excellent experiment using volunteers from the audience where we discovered that the sound of laughter is more contagious in girls than in boys.

IMG_6771After our brilliant show there was Rick Hall and his fantastic futuristic “I don’t believe it” show where he fired some science fiction and science facts and we had to guess which was which. The children enjoyed this a lot and we really loved the opportunity to be amazed by what the world of science will bring next.

IMG_6827Next were the modern day dinosaurs and scaly beasts and no I’m not talking about our presenters, I’m talking about Mark from Forest Floor Reptiles. He showed us all about the science and behaviour of lizards, spiders and giant monitors. If you want more go to his rescue shop in Rushden where he cares for many crazy beasts that need new homes. IMG_7024Have you got horrible phobias that stop you from seeing and enjoying these amazing animals? He specializes in phobia stopping (interesting fact, he had a phobia of spiders not anymore thanks to his beautiful Chilean Rose Tarantula.)

IMG_6897IMG_7096IMG_6910Finally was the explosive lecture that caused a fire bell….twice. Chris and Dom Wollaston’s fantastic science duo had a battle between the sciences. Chris, (aka Mr Sheldrick) represented Physics with fire juggling, super strength seesaws electro static barbies while Dom (aka Mr Lowe) caused chaos with chemistry. Dom showed us explosions, how to make green flames, super powered bottle rockets and a flaming jelly baby which literally brought the school to a standstill. Outside. In the tennis courts. While everyone waited for the firebells to be turned off.

IMG_6700We had a fantastic time and the feedback from schools so far has been brilliant. Many children say that they are now more interested in science and technology than before. Thanks to the Wellcome Trust, Waitrose and the University of Northampton for supporting us. Biggest thanks of all though goes to all our presenters, audience members and all the great staff who helped make Lab_13 Lectures 2014 such a success!

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