Launching the Big Battery Hunt at Irchester

At the start of this term the Lab_13 Committee did an assembly to launch our Big Battery Hunt! In the assembly we asked the audience lots of questions about what batteries are used for, and why they might not work. We also did a performance with Fintan as a battery who had run out of energy! We told him why he didn’t want to end up on a rubbish heap leaking poisonous chemicals for 100 years, but be recycled into something useful like metal for a car instead!


Each class has to collect as many batteries as they can as a team. Each child received a battery box to collect lifeless batteries to recycle. We want to collect batteries to recycle, to stop harming the environment with the dangerous chemicals which are inside batteries.

Each class will be recording how many batteries they collect each week, using different ways of showing the information: like pictograms, pie charts, bar charts or line graphs. Some classes are even finding out which types of batteries are collected the most!

The class with the most batteries collected at the end of the term will win a spectacular prize. The class with the most batteries so far is:  4MD with over 400 batteries after only 1 week!


Week 1 Whole School collection: 3205 batteries!

We interviewed some children and staff about the battery hunt, and discovered that Isabella has been collecting batteries from her relatives, while Mrs Loasby and Mrs Alison have collected quite a lot of batteries and are helping the staff team.

By Nyah and Dulcie


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Lab_13 represented at the Irchester Gala and Summer Fair, with Oobleck!

Summer Fair 

The 12th of July was the date of the Summer Fair. Here we had a stall of 2 things: a test tube lucky dip where you could win either a book or some sweets and the paddling pool of oobleck! This was 20p to run on and free to touch. Oobleck is a substance where when you touch it gently it would be a liquid but when you put impact on it, it would turn into a solid. For this we needed a huge bag of corn flour, kindly donated by Mr. Tyrrell, and a lot of water. I’m sure everybody enjoyed it, I know I did. We would describe it like running on a hard, but spongy surface. And when you stopped running, it was like sinking into custard! To make oobleck you need a litre jug of water and two litre jugs of corn flour, mixed well together.  During the end of the school day, if we weren’t busy doing something we were making loads and loads of oobleck! We raised £22.80 from the lucky dip and £15 from the oobleck.

Irchester Gala

On the 14th of July there was the Irchester Gala. Isabella and Ben opened the Gala as Lab_13 Committee members, after the parade had come through the Sports Club field. Isabella presented a speech that told the community about what we do as a part of Lab_13 such as: taking care of the lab pets, Indian stick insects and Giant African land snails, how we help the local community and the children of Irchester School to inspire curiosity and questions and how we, with the help of Miss Draper, learn how to think scientifically. As Ben and Isabella did this, they received a prize of £25 amazon gift voucher, £50 for the school and a free meal. Now who wouldn’t like that?

By Isabella and Wilfred






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Fungus Challenge Teams at Irchester

The Lab_13 committee and a team of year 5 students have been battling it out to grow the best fungus.


We had a bag of straw, and we had some mycelium of Oyster Mushroom Fungus. First we poured hot water into the bag of straw (to kill any bacteria), then we let it cool overnight before putting the Mycelium in. Ten we put the bag in a warm place with little sunlight. After 4 weeks, we got the bag of straw out and saw that the fungus had grown all through the straw: there were lots of while bits. We put the fungus in the fridge for 2 days to make it think it was autumn. After that we cut the bag open and put it somewhere warm with a little sunlight.

We each had a different job, it’s now Josh and Aiden’s job to spray it every day. The winning team is the one that grows the biggest fungus. I think ours might win as the year 5s forgot to put theirs in the fridge for two days. They have done it now but we are still two days in front of them.

About a week after being in the fridge, we started to see mushrooms growing from the straw! Last week on Tuesday, both teams got together to compare our mushrooms. The year 5 team had more mushrooms, but they were much smaller and a bit dried out. We only had 3 mushrooms, but they looked big and healthy. We think that the year 5’s put their mushroom somewhere a bit too warm so they dried out. After comparing our fungi, we tasted them! We fried them and compared the tastes of the two fungi.  Out of 12 people, 9 decided to try some, and 7 really liked the Oyster mushrooms. We decided to try and grow some more fungus so we turned the straw over and started again!

By Josh, Abbie and Aiden (year 5)

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CHaOS at Irchester!

On Wednesday year 5 and 6 went to see a group called CHaOS (Cambridge Hands On Science). CHaOS had lots of fun science experiments set up in our school hall with university students to explain them. There was also year 5 and 6 from Bozeat Primary and year 7 from Wollaston Secondary, who arrived in mini-buses, as this was the first event of the new Nene Valley Partnership between the three schools.

Ben’s favourite experiment was the skulls because he likes animals and correctly guessed what some of the skulls were. There was the skull of a cat, a dog, a shark and a fish skull. For another experiment, we held a bicycle wheel on a handle. We span the wheel and if you moved around with it, it felt out of control! If you held the wheel and then turned it right whilst sitting on the spinny chair, you would start to spin right without touching anything else!

Another experiment was some special glasses, called prism glasses. If you tried to high five someone while wearing them, you would completely miss their hand because the glasses moved everything you could see to the side!

After the hands on activities, we in the committee showed the university students some of our own experiments. We did marshmallow hands: which is when you rub your hands together on a piece of wire, and it tricks your nerves to make your hands soft and marshmallow like. Dulcie thought the CHaOS group would know how everything worked already, but they were amazed by our experiments and want to borrow our ideas!

By Dulcie and Ben, Year 5

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Balloon Rigs and Interview Questions

Year 6 were away so today each of the MT year 5s got to bring a guest to the lab with them. This was a good way to introduce new kids in to the lab. 

We spent the first half of the session building balloon rigs…

…which we’ll be testing out next week when we take aerial photos from the courtyard garden! We will post our results to the public lab citizen science project and we’ll be showing the photos to the rest of the school in an assembly before the end of term.

At break-time we did more science busking in the playground. This time we did the slinky trick and soft hands. We were completely surrounded and the tricks were really popular! Pupils said they wished we could do science busking everyday.

Then we discussed applications for next year’s management team and wrote out our questions for the form…

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Irchester Borrowed the Moon!

Last week, some moon rocks arrived into the school! These were real samples collected from the Moon by the Apollo Astronauts almost 50 years ago. They are still owned by NASA, who trusted us to look after them for a week! They also came with lots of different meteorites: space rocks! We borrowed them from the STFC, through their amazing “Borrow the Moon” scheme.

We had to go through an extra protective security check so we could be trusted with them because the meteorites are worth thousands of pounds. The lunar samples are actually priceless, so if we lose them or break them we can’t go back and gets some more moon rocks because it has been almost fifty years since anyone has been to the Moon. We are very lucky to have the moon rocks, and all know how important it is that we look after them. Miss Draper had to make sure nobody opened the case when she wasn’t in the room, even other staff members: so the case has 2 padlocks, and was kept in a locked cupboard!


Miss Draper came round all the classrooms, so everyone could look at all the moon rocks and meteorites. There was a tiny meteorite from Mars, a huge heavy iron meteorite, and some stone meteorites. There was also some Earth rock that is very similar to the moon, and some melted Earth rock and sand: which got melted by the impact of a meteorite! We tested if they were magnetic and only the meteorites were:  the Iron ones were very magnetic (the large campo cielo iron meteorite, and the Udei station iron meteorite) while the stone meteorites were a bit magnetic , so they must have had some iron in them.

The Moon rock was encased in a plastic disk to keep it safe: there were three different types of rock, and three different types of soil (smashed up rock).

It was really interesting to be able to see the different samples; amazing to touch a rock that had been in space; and an honour to hold a piece of the Moon and Mars!

If you want to Borrow the Moon, go to the STFC website to find out more and apply: Borrow the Moon

By Abbie and Aiden (yr 5)



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Rigs and Rockets

We had a busy session at the lab today!

We started designing camera rigs for balloon mapping. This is a technique used all around the world to map environmental issues such as oil spills, fracking sites and green spaces in cities. With publiclab we are working to try and build rigs for carrying the cameras up into the sky better.

The key properties for the rig are…

  • Materials are readily available and cheap
  • Lightweight
  • Has something to stop the camera swaying

You can read more about our designs in our research note published on their website…

We are going to be testing the rigs public lab have made already as well as coming up with our own ones! This research will feed into the international citizen science project and if it’s successful our designs could be used by balloon mappers all over the world!

In break-time, we took science busking into the playground to show other kids in the school some science tricks. We made alka seltzer rockets and performed the slinky trick.

Here is a write-up of the rockets we made from Kathleen…

We are going to start running science busking sessions in afternoon playtimes once a week because the kids enjoyed it so much!

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