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Durham University

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First for North East England, as specialist science classroom opens

(5 March 2019)

We're supporting a new specialist classroom designed to nurture pupil-led scientific investigation across six primary schools.

The details...

The facility, based at Chilton Academy, Chilton, County Durham, is the first Ogden Trust ‘Phiz Lab’ in North East England.

Phiz Labs are dedicated science teaching spaces shared between several schools, aimed at promoting pupil-led scientific experiment and helping schools work together.

Funding has come from The Ogden Trust, a charity dedicated to promoting the teaching and learning of physics.

The new facility will be used by The Ogden Trust Primary Partnership schools: Chilton Academy, Cleves Cross Primary, Dean Bank Primary, Ferryhill Station Primary, West Cornforth Primary and Broom Cottages Primary.

Our involvement

Our staff and students will help teachers and pupils with hands-on experiments and longer-term scientific investigations. With Business Durham, the economic development organisation for Durham, we also train and support young ‘Science Ambassadors’ – pupils in each of the schools whose role is to inspire their classmates in science.

Dr Lorraine Coghill, Ogden Science Outreach Coordinator in our Department of Physics, said: “It’s fantastic to be part of such an inspiring partnership and 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.”

Opening event

An opening ceremony was held on Friday 1 March, when 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 was designed by Stuart Trotter, current author/illustrator of the Rupert Bear children’s stories.

What they said...

Emily, one of the pupils at the launch event, said: “So inspired: I want to be a scientist!”

Mark Roberts, Assistant Head Teacher 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 this 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.”

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.”