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Celebrating science

Published: 6 March 2019

A new Phiz Lab designed to nurture pupil-led scientific investigation across six primary schools has officially opened this month.

The facility, based at Chilton Academy, Chilton, County Durham, is the first Ogden Trust Phiz Lab in North East England. It will be enjoyed by the Durham Ferryhill & Chilton Primary Partnership and is supported by Durham University and Approach Too CIC.

Staff and students from Durham University will help teachers and pupils with hands-on experiments in the Lab and longer-term scientific investigations. The University and Business Durham, the economic development organisation for Durham, already train and support young Science Ambassadors – pupils in each of the schools whose role is to inspire their classmates in science. The Phiz Lab will now add another dimension to science in the partnership.

Chilton Phiz Lab opening
The opening of the Chilton Phiz Lab. Left to right: Dr Jenny Search, DocResearch; Lottie, Chilton Academy; Gary Chaplin, Business Durham; Veronica Leacock, The Ogden Trust, Lacey, West Cornforth Primary; Elizabeth Bruce, Chilton Town Council; Glenys Newby, Approach Too CIC; and Dr Lorraine Coghill, Durham University

Mark Roberts, Assistant Headteacher at Chilton Academy, said: “This exciting partnership has already brought the schools in our cluster group closer together in terms of the way our pupils work in a collaborative manner.

“We also hope that the opportunity to use the Phiz Lab space and resources, combined with the expertise of science specialists in their field from regional businesses and universities, will help us to provide our pupils with scientific skills and knowledge that they can pass onto their peers. Additionally, we truly hope that our students will perceive science as an exciting, fun and innovative career option in the future.”

At the opening ceremony on Friday 1 March, pupils from each of the schools enjoyed a Celebration Science show from children’s entertainer Cool Science Party. Each school’s Science Ambassadors also presented activities, posters and displays for the Phiz Lab.

The door for the new facility has been designed by Stuart Trotter, current author/illustrator of the Rupert Bear children’s stories.

“So inspired: I want to be a scientist!”
Emily, pupil at the launch event

Clare Harvey, CEO of The Ogden Trust, said: “We are delighted to celebrate the opening of this new Phiz Lab, with so many partners and science ambassadors able to attend. The Ferryhill & Chilton cluster group of primary schools has had a really active ambassadors’ programme and this is now ‘the icing on the cake’ for pupils to have a special place to learn and practice their science skills.”

Dr Lorraine Coghill, Ogden Science Outreach Coordinator in the Department of Physics at Durham University, said: “It’s fantastic to be part of such an inspiring partnership and to see the first Phiz Lab in North East England open right here in County Durham.

“The Phiz Lab will allow for new and exciting STEM programmes within the communities of Chilton and Ferryhill and we’re excited to be involved. The Science Ambassadors already have plans for hands-on workshops for families and to help younger pupils learn through experiments they have developed with our staff and students.”

Phiz Lab door by Stuart Trotter
The door has been designed by Stuart Trotter, current author/illustrator of the Rupert Bear children’s stories.

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