A cosmic Phiz Lab launch

12 November 2018

By the end of 2018, there will be 31 funded Phiz Labs at primary schools across the UK. Laura Marshall is now leading the Ogden Phiz Lab programme and over the course of this academic year she will be visiting our growing network of Labs. Laura will be working to ensure that more schools are able to benefit from the Phiz Lab initiative and the wave of science excitement that is growing across primary schools.

You can read more about Laura here.

Laura will be visiting the Durham Ferryhill & Chilton Primary Partnership later this month to give them advice, guidance and a final push towards launching their new Phiz Lab at Chilton Primary School. The plans and development are already well under way: following ideas from the school’s Science Ambassadors, the team are ordering exciting new kit and putting together displays, including a huge poster celebrating the Science Ambassadors’ achievements.

A new lab at Our Lady’s Bishop Eton Primary School in Liverpool was officially opened just last week by Liverpool born children’s author and screenwriter, Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Frank read an excerpt from his book Cosmic, which featured a young astronaut about to complete his first space-walk, and had the room full of Year 5 students in complete silence, listening eagerly. The Phiz Lab was officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony watched by students, school governors and the headteacher. The school celebrated the day with a science themed non-uniform day. The school was full of small scientists, astronauts and the occasional Star Wars fan all embracing the theme.

Two classes of 30 Year 5 students got to be the first students to experience the Phiz Lab by taking part in a rocket workshop, led by Scott Walker, Keele University’s Ogden Outreach Officer. The students designed and built their rocket out of one sheet of A4 paper. The rockets were tested from the launch platform and were flown across the lab by a compressed air machine, with the aim of reaching a target on the far wall.

Jan Fearnehough, South Liverpool Primary Partnership hub leader says “We have worked non-stop in getting our lab ready and, although it has been hard work, it has also been great fun. We have involved the children from our Enterprise team in the planning and preparation and they have been inspirational in their ideas. An example of this is when they suggested that we should celebrate some of the great scientist of the past. We took this on board and created an area which does just that.

“Our lab is located in the part of our school which, long ago, used to be a Merchant’s house. We decided that instead of trying to disguise the old Victorian fireplace, we would use it as a focal point with portraits of famous scientists above it and Victorian style artefacts around it. The main part of our lab, however has a much more futuristic space theme and also an area especially designed for our very youngest children. We are also working on a ‘discovery area’ which will annex the main lab.”

Phiz Labs provide a great focal point for science in schools, bringing together teachers and students to celebrate science, enjoying practical, hands-on teaching and learning in the lab.

“I think Phiz Labs are so important for many reasons,” enthuses Laura. “In my experience, to walk into a science lab is like role play; you walk in and it transforms your thinking into being a 'scientist'. Traditionally, science labs were only found in secondary schools. By then, for some, the experience can be daunting rather than transformative. Putting Phiz Labs into primary schools inspires and educates children from as young as the age of four years old! We need to encourage the children to share their talents, and we need to nurture and support their natural scientific inquisitiveness, they are our scientists of the future!

“Phiz Labs – what an amazing opportunity for young minds to become 'scientists' and learn about the world around them; and what a fantastic environment for teachers to deliver 'practical' science where the children can get more hands on, after all, science is about exploration and discovery!”

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