Lab_13 Ghana opening celebration

Lab_13 Ghana Management Team get ready for the grand opening

Lab_13 Ghana Management Team get ready for the grand opening

We’re very excited and immensely proud to announce the opening of the first Lab_13 in Africa, in Bosomtwe District @Lab_Ghana ! A cause of great joy for Ignite! and Lightyear Foundation and all our supporters and partners – thank you all for making it happen.

Throughout March, the team of Scientists in Residence, including Myf Owen and Anisha Tailor from the UK, working alongside Nesh Patel and Emilio Pisanty, our wonderful Ghanaian Scientists in Residence and the Management Team of students from Agape Academy in Jache, Bosomtwe, have been making all the plans come to reality.

The furniture is in, the walls have been decorated, the banner on the outside wall has been unfurled, the Questions Board is already brimming with topics that students want to explore, and the official celebrations have been planned, including dances from Agape students.  60 schools have signed up and everyone is buzzing with excitement and possibility.

Follow the opening ceremony on the @Lab_13Ghana twitter feed here

and on the Lightyear Foundation facebook wall here

And congratulations to everyone – be inspired by sciencelearn how to be scientists!

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Goodbye from Miss Hogan

What a week to have as my last week at Irchester; Lab_13 Lectures, the first Mini Lectures, and a Solar Eclipse! 4 years ago, when Ollie and the rest of the original Lab_13 management committee hired me to be their first scientist in residence I had no idea what to expect! Now, I can honestly say that no two days were EVER the same!

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I have had such an amazing time at Irchester and am so proud of all of our little scientists – we’ve had such a journey in Lab_13 over the years and I am so amazed by how far we have come. Its so hard to pick my favourite moments and just looking back through old blog posts makes me realise that actually every moment in Lab_13 is special. The children of the management committee take such great pride in their roles and have worked so hard over the years to develop Lab_13 Irchester.

The true secret to our success thus far lies in the passion Irchester children have for THEIR lab. Asking questions and finding out the answers for themselves drives the children’s innate curiosity and develops their desire to BE scientists and to act and work and think like real scientists.

DSCN0499 (1)On Friday, we had a tea party after school where all the past committee children came back to celebrate the past 4 years. We had Year 10 students who were on the very first committee to Year5 current members conversing and sharing their Lab_13 experiences.

It’s sad to leave the lab and my friends at Irchester but I have every faith that Lab_13 will continue to go from strength to strength. With the expert guidance of Mrs Tyrrell and the savvy lot of kids I’m leaving in charge….I’m so excited to see what’s in store for Lab_13 Irchester phase 2!

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Solar Eclipse from Irchester

Wow – what an experience! Some children were so excited about the eclipse they spent last night researching, drawing and making posters about it! The morning began with a lot of excitement from both children and adults! The live link was set up on almost every screen in the school!

Our children all gathered on the playground to experience an eclipse for the first time! It was bit cloudy but the sun tried very hard! Children stood facing away from the sun but watched their shadows fade and get brighter and experienced the drip in temperature. Some children had protective eyewear so were able to watch the eclipse as it happened.

However, as Irchester is surrounded by countryside and we have many trees at our school, something that which we all noticed was the birds! As it got darker all the birds began to roost and we could hear them singing in confusion. We saw magpies, robins, and crows all fly into trees when they thought it was dusk! Soon after the eclipse, they all flew back out again and we heard them sing the dawn chorus for the second time today! The poor birds must have been very confused!

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Lab_13 Lectures 2015!

bannerCAZ2hqzWcAE4LpY The Lab_13 Lectures 2015 were, once again, a terrific hit! Each British Science Week, Lab_13 Irchester runs the Lectures which are a celebration of science, technology and amazing feats of engineering. The unique thing about Lab_13 Lectures is that 50% of the lectures are delivered by our Lab_13 kids. This year, we spoke about Earworms, Mondegreens and how music can change how you taste! Our second lecture was on the neuroscience of optical illusions and how our brains try so hard to understand the world around us but sometimes get it wrong!

On the afternoon before the Lectures, as the children were rehearsing for the final time, Willy Gilder from BBC Radio came to interview them about their passion for science and why Lab_13 Lectures have been sold-out again! The radio interview can be found here at 1hr40 and an interview with Miss Hogan, our scientist in residence, and Katherine Mathieson from the British Science Association at 2hr40.

Early on Wednesday morning, a minibus-full of children set off the Wollaston Secondary School where we began to set up and fit in a final practice. We were soon joined by our other presenters; Rick Hall who did his brilliant international show “I don’t believe it! and Chris and Jonny who had a science showdown between physics and chemistry!

Soon, we heard that our first school groups had begun to arrive and the auditorium began to fill up. Then….showtime! The first show was over before we knew and we barely had time for a quick lunch, a reset and another practice before the afternoon lectures began. This time, the children lost all their nerves and were brimming with confidence. The tech team consisted of Harvey and Alfie and they did a fab job making sure all the AV equipment ran smoothly. All of our lectures were recorded and will be up on our Youtube channel soon. We’ll post the link once they are ready.

The 400 students in the audience came from primary and secondary schools from across Northamptonshire. They enjoyed each of our lectures especially as there were many opportunities for volunteers and audience participation.  We are so proud of our Lab_13 children and hope that the Lab_13 Lectures is a an experience that they will never forget!

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British Science Week

British Science Week began last week and the theme this year is motion. With this in mind, Lab_13 Irchester organised a competition in which children had to make a presentation about how something moves. On Wednesday and Thursday, the lucky winners helped Irchester kick off our BSW celebrations with not one but two trips to The Big Bang Fair in Birmingham.

BB 2 BB1

And then on Friday, a coachful of children attended an event hosted by the Royal Microscopical Society in collaboration with the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers, which celebrated the 350th anniversary of the first published work in microscopy – ‘Micrographia’ by Robert Hooke. Activities included solving a heinous jelly baby theft using clues such as tissue fragments and fingerprints left at the scene, and sketching a range of animal and plant parts as viewed through a microscope. There were prizes for the best sketches and our children claimed seven runner-up prizes.



Our BSW celebrations will continue this week, when we host our third annual Lab_13 lectures.

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OFSTED: Research and Analysis – Improving science with the Lab 13 Irchester project

Good practice in Science at Irchester Primary school recognised by Ofstediheart lab13

Yesterday (3rd March 2015) Ofsted published an example of good practice in science teaching. The report celebrates the role of Lab 13 in driving school improvement at Irchester Community Primary School in Northamptonshire.

The Lab 13 project involves a scientist in residence working in school with the pupils and teachers to raise the focus of science and use it as the context through which real and relevant literacy and numeracy skills are learnt. The approach to learning is through pupil led investigations prompted by their questions. The pupils carry out their own investigations guided by the scientist in residence. The teachers benefit from access to ‘in house’ expertise which raises confidence in their ability to teach excellent practical enquiry skills. The results are that ‘The academic rigour and high level of subject knowledge development in pupils’ science work is outstanding’.

The school used science as part of the whole school journey to good. Head teacher Julia Alison said, ‘We recognised that applying this enquiry led approach to teaching and learning across the curriculum we would have a wider impact on pupils’ achievement in both academic and personal development. For the report comments on how the children develop those ‘soft skills’ desired by employers such as project leadership and management and honing critical communication skills.’

This report illustrates how Lab 13 exemplifies the recommendations from the ‘Maintaining curiosity’ (2013) Ofsted summative report into primary science. It exemplifies the requirements of the new national curriculum for primary science.

Raising pupils’ aspirations for the future, especially in STEM related careers, was another strong driver behind the project. The head teacher commented that, ‘We have the highest aspirations for our pupils. We want them to develop the creative, imaginative and problem solving mind they will need to make the most of future learning opportunities at secondary school, university and beyond.

For more information see here goodpracticeinscienceatirchesterprimaryschoolrecognisedbyofsted (1)

To see the Ofsted report see here 

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Gillespie News – Jamming Piano

The Lab_13 committee came up with an idea to make a piano out of jam jars and water! We had jam jars left over from our honey project, and thought of using the jam jars for the piano. We started this piano project on Tuesday 24th February, we think it will take until next week to finish it.

Members of the management committee putting together the piano, using tuning forks to help find the right notes

Members of the management committee putting together the piano, using tuning forks to help find the right notes

With the spatula we hit the jam jars to make a sound. The different amounts of water in the jam jars made the different sounds. The less water, the higher the pitch of the sound, and the greater the amount of water, the lower the pitch is. We tried playing twinkle, twinkle little star, and we got as far as “how I wonder what you are”.

The jamming piano and spatula

The jamming piano and spatula

The Lab_13 committee asked our music teacher Caroline to see if we could borrow some tuning forks. At first, the committee did not know how to use them. Carole explained, then we compared them with our jam jars. We managed to match the C from the tuning fork.

Next week, we are planning to finish the piano and we can show you the final piano!

Written by Zarrin, Y5

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