Gillespie News: Flying into Physics

Y5 have been going to a local community centre where Scarabeus, an aerial theatre company, are based. We go there to learn about the physics behind forces. We put harnesses on and do upside down turns and twists and spins. It’s very fun and memorable. It’s better than just sitting in a lesson being told about forces because this way you get to feel them and experience them.

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An impressive example of what Scarabeus aerial performers can do (photo taken from their website)

To warm up we do yoga. The yoga is hard but it’s important to stretch your muscles to prepare them for aerial flight. Our favourite yoga positions were the cat and also one where we were back to back and leaning against each other.

We have also been to a secondary school near us to learn more about forces. At Highbury Fields School we did an amazing experiment with an airboard. The teacher turned it off and we had to explain how friction can be helpful and unhelpful. We also did an experiment with paper where we got to rip bits and change their shape making sure the mass was the same. If we hadn’t done that then it wouldn’t have been a fair test. Then we dropped them and compared the times they took to drift to the floor. Nobody’s estimations were correct! We were baffled at how the long pieces of paper simply glided and took longer than the rest. We were flabbergasted that the scrunched up ball of paper took only 63 milliseconds to fall to the floor. And then we had to answer a question to explain which were the fastest and the slowest.

Written by Reuben and Isla (Y5)

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Science Experiments CPD with Lab_13 Rosehill

This week the Scientist in Residence at Lab_13 Rosehill, Betti Copperwood, ran a training session for teachers at the school all about how to make science experiments really creative, engaging and educational for pupils. Betti used the theme of ‘air’ to demonstrate different ways of approaching a topic and showing how teachers can use different experiments to illustrate a key point.

Blowing through straws creates a rasping noise and demonstrates how vibrations are created by air; the fact that you can feel the vibrations on your lips makes this particularly effective. There was also the lava-lamp experiment, where you add an alka-seltzer tablet to a bottle with water, oil and food colouring in and you can see the bubbles float to the top of the solution because they are lighter. Putting a tea-light in a bowl surrounded by bicarbonate of soda, lighting the candle and pouring in vinegar demonstrates the existence of a gas because the carbon dioxide produced puts out the candle.

There was also the balloon racing car – the air that is released from the balloon creates a force which moves the car forwards. And finally there was the experiment where you add bicarbonate of soda to vinegar and feed the gas produced through a tube into another bottle of water. This was really popular because it’s a really visual experiment and it is clear to see that a gas has been produced.

The session was very successful and it’s great to see that the Lab_13 in Rosehill is taking hold and having a wider effect on the teaching of science across the school!

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Irchester lab_pets: stick insects!

This week on blog we are going to talk about the stick insects: they were jealous after the snails got a whole blog to themselves! Before the holiday we saved stick insect eggs: some hatched over the summer holiday, but suddenly, this week a few more stick insects have hatched! They are living in a little pot at the minute to get used to being in a bigger area. As soon as they get used to their new home and have grown bigger, they will move into their next new home. They are really different to the big ones as they are much paler in colour and are only 1cm long. But they are also similar because they are exactly the same shape, just smaller!


Our medium stick insects are doing really well and love their new home, they are only 3 months old. Soon they will be big enough to move in with the adults!

Our oldest stick insects are doing really well, but sadly one has lost a leg. This happens when they get old, and as stick insects only live for 1 year these ones are really old!

We hope more will hatch soon and they like their new home. We’ve decided to keep 13 stick insects, as we are Lab_13!

By Cheryl (Yr 5) and Sophie (Yr 6)

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Gillespie news: the science of space

The Science of Space

On the 5th December the science committee have arranged a family learning night, where families can come to learn more about the science of space.

There are a few surprises in store. We are lucky to have some hard-working collaborators working with us including adult scientists and children from other Islington schools.


Our newest Lego set – Women of NASA

There will be Lego building (with a difference!) and star gazing and plenty more including some surprises. This Lego is no ordinary Lego – it’s the brand new Women of NASA set! We will be very happy if you can join us.

Written by Marwa and Anisa, Y5


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Irchester research: how clean are your hands?

This week, we will be talking about the experiment Year Four did to find out if washing your hands actually works. They did it to show people how important proper handwashing is, to help keep people healthy and help SAM, our School Attendance Matters dog raise our attendance!

The way the experiment works is the whole group handed around a piece of bread with hands that were not washed, rinsed with water and washed with soap. Each time they used a different piece of bread. The idea was that the germs, bacteria and mould from the hands would be spread onto the bread. We left the bread slices in bags for the germs to grow, but sealed because we didn’t want any illnesses to spread. The control of the experiment is the slice of bread NOT touched by anyone, so we could see the difference our hands made. We also split the group into girls and boys, to see if there was a difference!

The results are…

Boys: Boys’ hands washed with water caused more mould to grow on the bread than dirty hands, probably due to bacteria liking water which helps them grow. Hands washed with soap were the cleanest, but still had quite a bit of mould.

Girls: The girls had the same pattern, but their hands were much cleaner than they boys, and after they washed their hands with soap there was hardly any mould at all!

So year 4 discovered that washing hands with only water actually makes germs spread faster, but using soap really does help. After washing their hands with soap the girls in our group put almost no mould on the bread, it was almost as clean as the control bread. Even though the boys got rid of some germs when washing their hands, maybe they need to be taught how to thoroughly wash their hands!

Year 4 told the rest of the school about their discoveries in assembly, hopefully their research will help all the children (and adults!) keep healthy this winter!

By Oliver (Yr 5) and Josh (Yr 6)

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A Big Snail Update from Irchester!

There have been lots of goings-on in the Lab_13 snail tank recently, so we thought we’d tell about some of them!

Firstly we have a new arrival in lab_13… It’s a snail. His name is Bobby, though we are hoping to change his name, as he doesn’t seem to answer to Bobby! A Year 1 boy called William gave us Bobby, because they didn’t have enough space for him.  Bobby has settled into his new home really nicely, and made great friends with the other snails. We discovered some interesting news: African snails live for about for the average of TEN YEARS!!!! Bobby is only 1 year old, so he should be with us in the lab for about 9 more years!

If you come into the lab, and find a large square of polystyrene on the side of the snails tank, it’s a new heater! We added the heater because the weather is getting colder, and the African snails despise the cold: they originate from Africa which is very hot. The polystyrene insulates the heater and makes sure all the heat goes into the tank. We also added a mesh hole on the lid to give the snails a bit more fresh air.


Recently, the snails have been getting lots of different foods; they especially liked the pumpkin we gave them. These are the food we gave them: pomegranate, pumpkin, courgette, green pepper, kiwi, beans and blackberries. The reason they got such a choice is that year 5 have been investigating different seeds, and learning that anything with seeds inside it is a fruit, including “vegetables” like tomatoes, pumpkins and runner beans! Once year 5 had chopped the fruits up and dug out as many seeds as they could find, we gave the left overs to the snails.

By Emily, Libby, Brooke and Finlay.


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Lab_13 Rosehill at the Nottingham Science Fair!

Lab_13 Rosehill was part of the Nottingham Science Fair in October! A group of pupils worked with Betti on experiments which they then presented to other groups of children taking part in the fair.

Pupils from Lab_13 Rosehill made lava lamps mixing oil, water and food colouring and adding an alka seltzer tablet – the gas produced pushes up through the water and oil in bubbles! This experiment was really popular with other children who all wanted a go at making their own.

They also did another experiment blowing up a balloon using the gas produced from the reaction between bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. The balloon fills with a gas that is heavier than normal balloons – when you attach them to a helium balloon, you need three of them to pull it down!

Pupils produced diagrams of their experiments and learnt about different experiments from other children at the Science Fair.

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