The Crunch at Irchester

For the first 2 weeks of term we have been doing an amazing project with the Wellcome trust: The Crunch! It is all about food: where it comes from, how it grows, the nutrients it contains and how if affects our bodies!  So today is your lucky day: to learn all about the Crunch at Irchester with us!! Every class in the school is taking part with different activities, not just in Science but in Maths and English as well. Every single child has taken one of our “mystery seeds” home for one night, and showed the rest of the class what it might grow in to! We’ve seen a cookie tree, a flower that grows its own sun and rain cloud so it can grow anywhere, and a space plant that travels between Earth and Mars.

We had a very special visitor: Sefan Gates The Gastronaut! He did an amazing show all about food and science: it has given the committee and Miss Draper lots of ideas for new experiments to do!


Year 5 and 6 have tested how much vitamin C is in different orange drinks using Iodine and starch. We discovered that there is twice as much vitamin C in fresh juice as in a fruit shoot, and hardly any in orange squash. We have also looked at Halo Priming which is where you soak seeds in salty water and to see if it changes how well they germinate. The results of that experiment will take a few more weeks! In groups we also created and performed a play to show how farmers are cutting down the rainforest to grow soya beans. Many of the soya beans are turned into food for cows, which are kept by farmers to provide us all with beef and burgers.

Year 3 and 4 are looking at why we need to eat different foods, because they all contain different nutrients. They made their own Top Trumps games, and their own pizzas! Then they tasted them and compared them to bought pizzas, three quarters of the class preferred the “school made” ones. Year 4 measured how much food is thrown away in the school kitchens, and are going to write a letter to the council asking them to provide compost bins so the food waste can be used for compost and energy instead of just being thrown into a landfill site. All of year 3 and 4 also went to Tesco in Wellingborough. They collected 10 different types of food from the shop to check for palm oil in the ingredients, and discovered that about half of all foods have palm oil in them. This is a problem as it is not very healthy, and the rain forests are being cut down to make space for growing the palm oil plants. Then they went into the staff only areas to see how Tesco recycle almost all their rubbish.



Year 1 and 2 are looking at lots of different fruits! Discovering how they look, feel and taste; investigating what countries they come from all around the world and what plants they grow on. They are trying to grow lots of seeds they found in food: like tomato seeds, apple seeds and even an avocado seed! They have also looked at how different foods are packaged to keep them safe while they are transported to the shops. In the lab, we investigated how food can be preserved, and tried making our own apple jam and pickled apple!




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Gillespie news: New Committee!

The New Committee

Hello everyone from the new committee. Sadly, the old committee has moved on but to our delight a new one has risen with Carole as our advisor. This morning at quarter past eight our first committee meeting began by watching this OK Go video, which was epic! It was in zero gravity and they were squirting paintballs everywhere (they weren’t really in zero gravity, they were freefalling in a plane).  If you jumped, you would fall but the plane would be falling with you.


OK Go in the coolest video ever

The Lab_13 committee has lots of plans for the year ahead and some of these will be difficult to pull off but we will try extremely hard. Some of our ideas are:

·         In Black History Month we will have a competition where you draw and research a black scientist

·         Host a Science Cinema

·         Make our Science Spectacular more interactive (for example include a game like Science Pointless)

·         Organise a Day of Science

·         Write a Lab_13 Gillespie Anthem

·         Make a radio controlled car (home-made)

·         Make positive signs to put up in the lab

Mosquito project

Gillespie is going to be involved in a mosquito research project, which involves identifying mosquitoes in our local area. We don’t have a name yet for our project but if you have an idea then please inform Carole or one of the Lab_13 committee.

Written by Danny and Naomi (Y5)


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Gillespie news: Space Camp!

Gillespie School’s first ever scientific spectacular Space Camp


At Gillespie School we are hosting our first ever Space Camp. The Lab_13 committee with the help of teachers will be managing the night. The first Space Camp will be exclusive to Y6, then other classes will also get the chance to participate. The main activity for the night we hope will be stargazing if the weather is good. The other activities we will be hosting are astronaut training exercises, the science of space and the art of space. We will be sleeping over in school until the next morning. The next day we will be sharing our experience of Space Camp in our weekly sharing assembly.

The think I am looking forward to most is sleeping over in school! And the astronaut exercises because I know they need to exercise a lot to maintain their strength in space because of the gravity. When we were in Y5 we learnt about the ISS and about how astronauts need to exercise to maintain their bone strength. I want to learn new exercises as I only know a few.

Y6 responded enthusiastically when our teacher told us the news about Space Camp!

Written by Leila Y6

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Chicks Update and Photos from Irchester

The chicks hatched on the 30th of June and the 1st of July. Of the 18 eggs we had, unfortunately 9 of them didn’t hatch, but nine did and are doing great, and very noisy! They always chirp to each to each other (except when they all fall asleep under their “electric chicken” heater). They are all different colours: 2 yellow ones, 3 black ones, 2 grey ones, a dark reddish-brown one and a ginger one. Some of them really like to be held and stroked, others prefer to run around! Most of the younger children have had a chance to come and hold the chicks, all the older ones will get a chance this week too.

We have done a few experiments on the chicks while they’re in the lab. One was to put wood shavings on only one side of the enclosure to see what side the chicks prefer.  The results are that at first the chicks stayed on the paper (probably because it was what they were used to) but then all moved to the wood shavings. This showed that they like the wood shavings more, so we have now covered the whole floor with them. The chicks have also started to scratch and dig through the shavings, looking for food.


Experimenting to see what colour the chicks prefer. 


Science Club watching the chicks navigate (and destroy) their maze

We did another experiment to see what kind of shiny things they prefer, and what colour they like to stand on most. We also did an intelligence test by hiding food inside a plastic cup. They found the food pretty quickly, but then kept pecking the cup even when it was empty. We have also been weighing them every day to see how fast they are growing. Today on day 10, the heaviest one is double the weight of the lightest one!

In Science club, they made a maze to see if they could find their way to the food in the middle. Unfortunately our walls weren’t high enough, so the chick kept jumping over them!

The year 2’s came in to make some scientific diagrams and fact files about the chicks, and the Year 6’s came in with their Foundation stage buddies to look at the life cycle of a chick, and have a go at holding one. The chicks are even starting to use their wings to fly on top of their heater to get their reward: food!


Everyone resting after a tiring day with year 4 and 5

We candled the eggs that didn’t hatch to see what happened: most of them didn’t really have anything inside, so either the egg never started to grow into a chick, or it stopped growing and died very early. Unfortunately two eggs looked like they were almost ready to hatch, but must have died just before.

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Incubating eggs at Irchester

This week’s labs blog is about the chick eggs that have been in the lab for almost three weeks!  We got 18 chicken eggs from Mini Meadows Farm in Northampton. There are three different breeds of eggs, all different colours. When they hatch the chicks will be different colours as well. The three main breeds we have are Rhode Island Red, Cream Leg Bar and Salmon Faverolles: The eggs are dark brown, light brown and light blue, and some are spotty. We are not sure what the spotty ones are, they might be another breed. We are keeping them all in an incubator to keep them warm, and turn them regularly just like a mother chicken would.

After 10 days we had to candle the eggs to see if they were alive or not.  Candling is where you have a special light which you put the egg on. It shines right through the shell so we can see a shadow if the chick is alive and growing, and it doesn’t show anything then the egg was probably not fertilised and will never grow into a chick. Year 4 candled them and out of 18 eggs, 13 are definitely alive and 5 of them we are not sure about. We could tell that they were alive because we could see the blood veins, a shadow and some of them were even moving!

On Tuesday we had to take the incubator off the turner, so it stops rocking the eggs. Now we have to keep the incubator closed so the humidity (the amount of water in the air) stays high: the chicks need it to hatch. They are supposed to hatch tomorrow and we are really excited! We asked children to sponsor and name the eggs: whichever one hatches first wins a prize!


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Taking two Lab_13 experiments to South End Juniors!

Last week we went to South End Junior School to teach the year 4s and year 5s how to do some experiments! On Tuesday we met the year 4s, and told them all about exothermic and endothermic reactions. We used yeast and hydrogen peroxide for the exothermic experiment: it bubbled up and got warmer. Then we used bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar for the endothermic experiment: it fizzed and got colder! We asked the year 4’s which reaction they thought happened inside their bodies to keep them warm: every class got it right and said Exothermic. The children were very enthusiastic about the experiments and wanted to know more.


The other experiment we did was extracting DNA with Year 5. They did it themselves and really enjoyed it. First we asked the classes if they knew what DNA does: lots of them knew it makes us all different and who we are, but they didn’t know that is also the instructions that make us grow into humans, all living things have different instructions in their DNA. But lots of the DNA is the same: did you know that half our DNA is the same as in a cabbage!  We extracted the DNA from peas, using a pestle and mortar, alcohol, salty water and washing up liquid.  This was to crush up the peas, then break up the pea cells to get the DNA out of them. Adding the ethanol made a cloudy layer appear: this is the DNA!

We really enjoyed getting to be the “teacher” for a lesson, and going to another school to show them the kind of things we do in the lab is great!

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Lab_13 Irchester’s 5th Birthday Party!

To celebrate Lab_13 Irchester turning a fantastic 5 years old, we had an amazing day; the Wonderful World of Science!  It was a Birthday party that lasted all day, and everyone in the school could come! We had three different zones for Chemistry, Biology and Physics, and all of year 4 and year 6, as well as the Committee helped run it. All the children in the school got to come round to see and do all the experiments, and parents were invited to come round in the afternoon. They all seemed very impressed!


The teachers loved being the ones to play for once!

First let’s talk about the Biology zone, here there was a competition to make a model wild life garden, with good habitats like a pond, flowers, long grass and trees. We gave away packs of wildflower seeds for people to plant and grow in their model gardens! One of the governors Mrs Bugby came it to dissect some hearts and eyeballs for us, lots of children got to hold them! Mr Blakie, one of the parents came in with loads of invertebrates (spiders and insects and other bugs) and showed them to all the children, telling us all about them. There was a giant stick insect, much much bigger than ours! Mrs Venn also came in with her pet snake called Jaffa.

In the Physics Zone, there were two competitions: one to see who could fire a straw rocket the furthest, and one to make the best CD spinner. There were lots of things that looked like magic tricks: waterproof cloth, floating magnets, super strong newspaper and flashing balls: but they could all be explained with Physics! At the end of each session, Miss Draper fired a giant version of our straw rockets, and we used one of the conducting balls to see if the electricity could go through everyone in the room to make the ball light up: and it worked!

Chemistry was the messy zone! We could make our own lava lamp out of water, oil and fizzy tablets, and make crystals out of sugar, salt, or something called Alum. There is a competition now to see who can grow the best crystal at home! Some Year Fours showed us a great trick where it looks like water is turning into wine: but actually the water and wine just swap places in the two glasses. The messiest experiment was the Cornflour Slime: if you put your hand in it slowly it feels like a slimy liquid, but if you hit it, the cornflour doesn’t splash; it goes really hard like a solid!


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