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The Phiz Lab – another Glass in Society success story

The Phiz Lab at Shrubland Street Primary School in Leamington Spar is the first of its kind in the country. Primary schools very rarely have dedicated science labs. The Phiz Lab initiative is about creating a dedicated science learning environment to support and engage teachers and pupils.  The GSCF was approached by the school to support this innovative project by funding a microscope “to use glass to make careful observations in science”.  The primary aim was to create a shared resource for a partnership of 12 schools to allow whole class microscopy projects to support the ‘Working Scientifically’ aspect for the KS1 and KS2 Science curriculum.

The Trustees have received an excellent interim report from the teacher in charge, Amanda Poole, telling us that the microscopy kit has been assembled and is being put to good use by pupils across year groups.  The following are a selection of the fantastic projects being progressed:

30 Year 6 Children studied the microscopes when learning about light; they used maths skills to estimate their magnification and made predictions about how light travelled through them. They went on to research microscopes to test their predictions. It was a great opportunity for the children to develop their scientific diagram and for them to apply their learning, having investigated mirror and lenses, to a real-life situation.

60 Year 5 and Year 6 Pupils used microscopes for their Martian Soil laboratory as part of their Space Camp residential. They made careful observations of soil samples and rocks as well as observing the respiration of yeast. Both classes were really engrossed in the activity and made some fantastic observational drawings. It is wonderful to have whole classes engaged in this kind of accurate observing at the same time and it is leading to some fantastic questioning.

The Microscope kit is spending the first two weeks of the year at St Margaret’s Junior School – they are a three form entry school with 90 children using the microscopes to make observations ofinsects to learn how to group and classify them and 90 children making observations of some Microfossils that we have acquired from the Geology department at Leicester University (looks like sand but actually has hundreds of tiny prehistoric fossils of sea creatures in that the children find with the microscope) to support their learning about evolution. The children are really learning about how scientists work in a careful and methodical manner.

Next stop for the microscopes is Briar Hill where 90 Year 2 children will be using them to make observations of materials to support their learning.

Amanda and a colleague are both Space Ambassadors for the European Space Agency (ESA) and over the next two terms will be working with 20 schools across the West Midlands region running training and pupil workshops.  They are hoping to take the microscopes along to some of these workshop (if they are not already out at other partnership schools) to run the amazing Martian Soil Lab. 

Amanda says:

“the children love it so much so it would be great to take it on the road – potentially reaching an additional 600 pupils.  Thank you so much for this fantastic resource – it is having or going to have such an impact in all our schools for years to come.  We just didn’t foresee the fight that would be on for booking them for National Science Week – everyone wants them”. 

It is amazing that an investment of under £1000 is benefitting over 3000 students in the West Midlands. 

Glass Sellers’ – watch this space we will keep you posted on progress.