This week saw the official opening of a new interactive science corridor at Lunt’s Heath Primary School in Widnes. The school is the hub for the Ogden Halton Primary Partnership, and Matthew Crook, partnership co-ordinator and Lunt’s Heath science lead, has been working hard to put science firmly at the heart of the school.
Following a school trip to their local science museum, Catalyst, Matt and his headteacher were inspired to create an interactive periodic table exhibition at Lunt’s Heath. Success in the national Randstad Best in Class competition provided the grant needed to put their ideas into action and the school can now celebrate and showcase science along its main corridor.
The corridor features an interactive periodic table which includes research from Years 5 and 6; a solar system model hangs from the ceiling along its length. Pictures celebrate inspirational scientists from across the world and others closer to home; and the work of the pupils is proudly displayed at every opportunity. The corridor now features homework creations and a fortnightly investigation – Ogden planetary picnic for the launch event!
“The corridor is a celebration of the great science work at Lunt’s Heath,” explained Matt. “It has been created to engage and inspire the children and will display their best work alongside some practical science fun which will change each week. The idea is for the children to take this knowledge home and pass this positive science message on to their parents.”
As the transformation took shape, the corridor was closed to the children – out of bounds for a week! Their excitement after the big reveal was evident:
“I felt amazed and shocked by what I saw because I never thought they would transform the plain old corridor into something amazing like that.”
“I like the galaxy walls because it inspires me to want to go into space.”
“I liked the planets hanging because it feels like I’m floating in space.”
“It has changed so much in such a short amount of time. The interactive periodic table was just unbelievable.”
Ogden Programme Manager, Paul Sapple was at the grand opening: “The afternoon was an exciting showcase of science,” enthused Paul “The subject has been embedded in the culture of the whole school and across the Halton Partnership.
“The children happily talked about the science investigations they have been working on in school and at home with their families. Their sheer enthusiasm and pride in the work they’ve been undertaking is simply inspirational,” said Paul.
“The corridor itself is fantastic! It is wonderful to see such innovative and imaginative ways to create a space to celebrate science – it doesn’t have to be a classroom or a lab as this fabulous corridor demonstrates. It is also really encouraging to see an example of a partnership forging connections with businesses, which can contribute to building a sustainable partnership model,” Paul concluded.
The Best in Class competition was devised by recruitment agency Randstad to give teachers and schools across the country the chance to bring learning to life for their pupils.
“What this competition has shown us is the passion, creativity and commitment teachers across the country have to making learning a much more enjoyable experience for their pupils,” said Senior Marketing Manager, Firhan Malik. “With a backdrop of funding pressures and a tightening of school budgets, these ideas often don't make it past the drawing board. We wanted to change that and give schools the financial support they need to bring their creativity to life and improve the learning experience for their pupils.”
“The entry from Lunt’s Heath wowed our judges with its creativity, commitment to bringing a key STEM subject to life and whole school approach in getting their pupils involved in the completion of their new science-themed corridor,” continued Firhan. “Seeing the excitement on the pupils' faces today as they saw their completed project for the first time embodied what this competition was set up to do. If just one of these pupils can be inspired to become a STEM star of the future, it will have made it all worthwhile.”
As part of the Halton Partnership, Matthew has an Ogden fellowship to give him time away from teaching each week to develop the partnership to its full potential and ensure it can be sustained beyond the five year partnership funding. With their first year now well underway, the partnership schools have a busy science schedule ahead with inter-school challenges and activities.
“We have been encouraging all the schools to adopt the Marvin and Milo science at home scheme which allows children to complete fun science experiments at home with their parents each week,” explains Matt. “After half term we will be hosting a partnership-wide engineer day, which will involve pupils from each year group from EYFS to Year 13.
As a partnership, we will be taking part in the national Engineer Leaders Award. We will be inviting an engineer to our school, along with students and teachers from across the partnership to launch the challenge which asks: if you were an engineer, what would you do? Pupils will be encouraged to look at the world around them to find problems an engineered solution could solve. Alongside annotated drawings of their ideas, entrants must write a letter to our local university to persuade engineers to choose their design to build.”
Matt will be speaking at the next north-west science alliance conference explaining the changes that they have made to science at Lunt’s Heath.