Particle physics laboratory

Students celebrate science with a visit to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

Over 100 pupils came together to celebrate science at the grand finale of the South Oxfordshire Science Fair.

It was held at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Visitor Center in Harwell on Wednesday, offered free of charge for the event.

The pupils involved were from the Vale Academy Trust and the South Oxfordshire Ogden Trust Partnership.

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A pupil from Larkmead School in Abingdon said: “I really enjoyed teaching new things to the younger pupils – I loved the ‘wow’ look on their faces! Another commented: ‘I feel like it really helped me build my confidence talking about science and made me realize I know a lot of the key words.’

The science fair venture began when the Vale Academy Trust presented an exciting proposal to the Ogden Trust, which supports physics education, for a ‘science partnership’ involving 2,200 pupils in nine schools.

Since then, backed by four years of funding, training and resources, a series of activities have taken place, including the grand finale of the Science Fair.

In recent months, primary school students have conducted their own scientific investigations to answer scientific questions.

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The schools held one-on-one science fairs to choose their winners from three age groups. The finalists from each school then competed in the Grand Final. Further activities are planned for the next academic year to ensure continued access to good quality and inspiring physics education.

During the morning, the children shared their exhibits with other children and the judges from the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and UKRI, demonstrating their enthusiasm, knowledge and genuine passion for science. . A highlight for the Primary students was spending time with KS3 students from Larkmead School and King Alfred’s Academy. These high school students had been working in their spare time to design demonstrations and hands-on activities for the younger kids to enjoy. Ian Snell of Science Oxford has organized a competition to build the slowest marble run. There were many breathtaking moments – and not just from the students!

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High school students from Fitzwaryn Special School were also on hand, telling the kids about their plans, helping out whoever needed it and delivering the most important cookies!

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In the afternoon, Dr. Neil Geddes, STFC Executive Director, National Laboratories – Science and Technology, presented medals and certificates to the first place winners and certificates for highly commended exhibits.

Some of the winning questions include, “What’s the best cookie to dip in a cup of tea?” and Does aerodynamics affect the distance a car travels?

Cat Boaz, STEM teacher at Vale Academy Trust and Partnership Manager at South Oxfordshire Ogden Trust, said: “It was great to see so many future scientists sharing their projects and passion with others. of their peers across schools and high school students were teachers and increased their confidence in science.

“This event greatly increased the science experience not only for the children who attended the finals, but for all the children who worked on their projects in their schools.

“Teachers have also had additional training on how to help children follow their own ideas in science – not an easy task with 30 children in a class! Congratulations to all.”

The Vale Academy Trust has invested in building a ‘Phizz Lab’ over the summer at Millbrook Primary School – a purpose-built science lab where pupils from the trust’s primary schools can immerse themselves in a multitude of scientific experiments.

This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team over 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Contact him by email: [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF