Science in the News reporting at Irchester!

All this term, a group of children from year 6 have been taking part in a project called: “Science in the News”.

Every week the group of pupils come to the lab, and have a look through that week’s “First News” newspapers. They pick out any interesting looking stories that are about science, technology, inventions and nature. They read through the articles together, then each person chooses one article that they want to research more about, and writes up their own report about the science news!

Mrs. Tyrrell has been putting this together with year 6 and she has decided to place their fascinating science articles on the notice board outside, for all parent and students to see. Last week the two guest reporters chosen wrote articles called: “Why wasps are useful” and “A solution to space junk”.

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This week a couple of the stories the pupils have chosen to write about are about scientists trying to create a huge marine reserve in Antarctica, and a reappearance of a very dangerous cattle disease called BSE on a farm in Northumberland.

The year 6 pupils taking part are really enjoying it, saying that “I like learning more about different types of science”; “it’s good to know we’re telling people about science news who wouldn’t usually read it” and “I like being about to choose and research my own science news story”.

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Switch-Off Fortnight at Irchester!

Last week we launched an exciting experiment called: Switch off Fortnight, we’re running it with The Pod and it’s going to last for 2 weeks. This is where we encourage everybody to switch off their lights and electronics to save money for fun things like trips, experiments and equipment. Every class has a switch off monitor each day, who checks the other class, making sure that they have turned everything off when they leave their classrooms. At the end of the fortnight, the Lab_13 committee will check which class has saved the most electricity.

DSCN2936 blog.pngHow many kettles, boiling for 1 hour would be equivalent to as much electricity we use at school in a day?

The answer is 400! This means that you would need 400 kettles in one room to generate the amount of power in the school.

Everyone in school will begin to find switch-off stickers on electrical things around their classroom. These are put on by the teacher, to show that we have permission to turn those things off. Remember: we need to turn them off when we leave the room for the smallest things, like assembly to the end of the day. For the next two weeks, it is a competition between each pair of classes as to who is the best at remembering to switch off their electronics when nobody is in class.

In our assembly we mentioned that we are checking the meter to see how much electricity we use. How many people do you think would have to ride a bike to power the school?

You would need 400, meaning that everybody at school would have to pedal all day to make it possible to have lights on so we can see what we are doing!

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Irchester Experiments at Parents Evening!

On the 30th of October and   1st of November, lots of parents and children came into school for parents evening.  We did exciting experiments to show what we’ve been up to in Lab_13, and for everyone to enjoy.


For the first experiment we had a balloon and a tissue ghost -which you got to make yourself, then you had to see how to make it fly. How would you achieve it? To make it fly, you had to rub the balloon on your jumper or your head. The jumper steals electrons from the balloon, which then wants them back from the tissue, so pulls the tissue towards it. This is called Static electricity.


The next experiment was codebreaking, there were two types of codes to do.  One was a letter code. So, A was B and B was C and so on. People made their own coded messages e.g “Happy Halloween”, “science is fun” and “hello everyone at Irchester”. The other one was a picture or a space code. The aliens speak in pictures and you had to crack it!

DSCN2868Also, we did a challenge to see which parachute was the best! There were big ones, small ones and medium ones; ones made of plastic and ones made of paper. Which one do you think would be the best? Ones that take longer to fall or shorter periods of time? The best parachutes took the longest to fall, to stop the object falling really quick and crashing. We discovered that the bigger parachutes were better because they had more air resistance.

The last experiment was a challenge to see if you could make an LED stick or ball light up. How would you do it? You had to complete a full circuit from the battery to the lightbulb! Put your hands on either side of the stick on the metal bits and the electricity goes through your body and back to the stick or ball.

We hope you enjoy trying these challenges and experiments!

By Saffron (yr 6) and Lucy (yr 5)

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Ready for painting!

Hello again! Things have certainly moved on since my last post at Dovecote Lab_13. Before the lab can be painted, everything had to be removed including tables, ovens and a fridge! With the help of Mrs Mitchel (Dovecote’s part time gardener and fellow Lab_13 enthusiast) and her son Patrick, the management team labelled each wall with the colour they would like it to be painted before clearing everything away. What colours would you choose? We are all eager to see what it looks like when we return to the lab tomorrow!

We will keep you posted!

On the other side of Nottingham, Henry Whipple had their first meeting as a management team for their Lab_13. Rick and I went over to welcome them to the network and to discuss what they might like to investigate and the roles and responsibilities of a management team. As you can see from the whiteboard, they had many excellent ideas ranging from ‘how animals fly’ to ‘what do things look like on the inside?’. Rick and I are looking forward to meeting with the management team weekly as they begin to take on their important roles. Hopefully, the next blog entry will be from one of them personally…you’ll just have to wait and see…

Whiteboard image

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Lunch_lab Adventures at Irchester

Over the last few weeks we have been doing all sorts of experiments on the playground at lunchtimes!

codeCode breaking: This week we have been trying to make Rob the robot and by breaking a password code and shape code. You have a grid which you need to try and make a Pattern in this case the pattern was a robot! The colours were red, blue, yellow, green, black and white, they had numbers beside them to show the colour code. Once you have found the colour code, we had to understand to grid code to find out where the colours went. We also had an Alien Code from Splunk the alien, and a letter code that we used to create our own secret messages for Lunchlab.

boatBoat challenge:Last week during lunch lab we did a boat challenge. You used a 30 by 30 sheet of tin-foil. What you have to do was make a boat out of it and put it in water and if it floats then you succeeded! But then you need to put marbles on it one at a time to see how much treasure your boat can carry. The best boat was build by a year 2, and held 132 marbles before it sank!

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Seed Collecting. With all the different plants in our playground children have been finding all sorts of different seeds: so we found out what they are and made a matching game, so people could find out what plants all the different seeds are from.


By Kye (yr5), Orla (yr6) and Miss Draper



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Introducing Tom Coekin

Hello! My name is Tom and I am the newest member of the Lab_13 family. I will be part of Ignite’s team until December when I will return to my studies as a PhD student investigating spider silk! As part of my role, I am assisting Lab_13 Dovecote in its renovations as they head towards their 10th birthday in April 2019. After a whole decade, the lab has deserved a new lick of paint, being restocked and to be restructured for the next 10 years of Lab_13.


Ideas for the Lab space have been thought of by the current MT with the guidance of Ms. Barton and me. As the renovations continue I hope to be able to update you all on how it is coming along.

Another part of my role will be introducing Henry Whipple Primary School to the Lab_13 network. Part of this role will be teaching science to each class on Friday afternoons. I am very excited about this opportunity and the chance to meet the school’s Science Leaders from each year. At Henry Whipple they have a ‘Wonder Room’ that we will adapt to become the new Lab_13. Inside, the WR contains a cupboard of curiosity, filled with strange and wonderful items such as wasp’s nest, bones and magnets (to name only a few) which will certainly provide us with some topics of investigation over the next few months. Lab_13 Henry Whipple will meet as a lunchtime club before I continue to teach in the afternoon.

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Baby Stick insects at Irchester!

Before the summer holidays our stick insects were getting old, so we decided to keep their eggs. While we were waiting for them to hatch, we had to spray the eggs with water to keep them hydrated. Finally, over the past three weeks some of the eggs have hatched! In the first week two stick insects hatched, in the second week only one hatched and in the third week two of the eggs hatched.

The biggest of the five babies is approximately the size of the tip of your index finger! The babies began as a brown colour; gradually they started to turn into their natural colour (which is green). They run around quite a lot, much more than the adults because they are more flexible. We think this is a bit like the human nature, how when you get older you are not as flexible so not able to do as many things as children.

We’re looking forward to seeing how quickly they grow, and if they keep on changing.

By Merkeyria (yr 6) and Z (yr 5)

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