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A sanctuary for science

Published: 25 November 2020

When schools re-opened in September, Laura Marshall, Science Lead at Our Lady & Saint Kenelm Primary School, was determined that the Phiz Lab should remain open. Over the summer, she had devised a Phiz Lab plan to ensure the pupils and staff could still immerse themselves in science, whilst keeping safe. A new Phiz Lab timetable now means one class bubble a day can use the lab and there are some rigorous new processes to follow, but the pupils and staff have been fully on board and have absolutely risen to the challenge.

Laura explains more: “our Phiz Lab has remained the hub of science within the school, and pupils are still getting the opportunity to do practical work, developing their skills for working scientifically!”

Pupils continue to enjoy practical science in the Phiz Lab at their primary school.

“The children from every bubble have been immersed in so many practical opportunities this term in the Phiz Lab using scientific enquiry and skills for working scientifically to carry out all sorts of investigations,” continues Laura. “Examples including classifying materials, phases of the moon, soils and rocks, floating and sinking and so much more!”

The key factor has been the understanding from pupils and teachers that once the equipment has been used, it has to be wiped down thoroughly with special anti-bacterial wipes/spray, and then put into a ‘holding box’ for 72 hours. As science lead, Laura returns quarantined equipment to the lab each morning, once it is safe to do so.

At the end of the lesson, the children put their lab coats into a washing basket, and they get taken home by a member of staff and washed. Their goggles are collected and disinfected ready for the next bubble to use. The children line up at the end of the lesson and the teacher or teaching assistant uses special cleaning spray to spray and wipe down the tables, stool seats and side areas. The children wash their hands as they leave the lab and return to their classroom. Once the school day is over, the school cleaning team give the lab its usual, daily, thorough clean to ensure that it is safe for the next bubble to use the next day.

Pupils held to disinfect the equipment they have used for their practical science.
Lab coats are collected and washed.

“On returning to school in September, pupils were anxious and unsure after spending so much of lockdown at home,” says Laura. “It was imperative that we got the lab up and running, as this is a place the children love to be. By sparking their curiosity through science in the lab this last term, it has given pupils a sense of normality, and of course, a chance to get back into role each week as scientists!”

“The Phiz Lab is a happy place for so many of our pupils,” concludes Laura. “It is thanks to the dedication of our staff and pupils that we have been able to continue our practical provision for science in the lab.”

The primary Phiz Lab programme is open to school partnerships as they enter their second year of funding. Each partnership (that includes primary schools) is eligible to apply for Phiz Lab funding: a grant of up to £2,500 is available to refurbish and equip a Phiz Lab, a dedicated science teaching space.

Interested in forming a partnership? Applications are currently open for new partnerships starting in September 2021. Find out more and complete your expression of interest before 1 February 2021.

A pupil washes their hands before leaving the Phiz Lab and returning to their classroom

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