Lab_13 News Updates

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Lab_13 News Updates

To keep up to date with Lab_13 Irchester, you can follow what we are doing on our twitter feed @Lab_13Irchester, or on the Lab_13 blog. The lab committee make regular posts to share what we have been up to!

Lab_13 News Updates

Just see what happens...

Irchester news: Science at the Christmas Fair!

December 7, 2017

On Saturday, the 2nd of December, Irchester Community Primary School held their Christmas Fair. This year Lab_13 had not 1, not 2, but 3 stalls! A book sale, a lucky dip and a science microscope quiz experiment. Many people (including some of the committee) had a go on the lucky dip, it was a big success. All the committee members had a chance to work at each stall, and to encourage children and adults to have a go.


For the lucky dip, We hid mini test tubes in a big box, and had secret messages inside. Some were hard to get out, so we had forceps (tweezers) that people could use. The secret messages told the winners what prize they would get! Everyone got a prize, either chocolate or a Star Prize. The star prizes were a light up ball, a water experiment kit, a science dictionary, and afternoons in the lab doing your own choice of experiment! Sophie’s favourite prize was the light up bouncy ball as it was so fascinating. The best things about the lucky dip were: discovering the messages, the prizes and the chocolate! It was really popular, because everyone who took a turn had to dig deep in to find the best prizes.


For the Microscope Quiz we used the microscopes we’re borrowing from the Royal Microscopical Society. We challenged people to match the objects up to photos of them through the microscope! The good things about the microscope quiz were: looking at different materials close up that you had never seen before; like green lichen on a twig and all the dirt in sheep’s wool.

Lots of the committee members dressed themselves up to look all Christmassy, especially Finlay! We found some tinsel wigs too which looked really silly, all committee members tried one but didn’t keep them on very long. The Christmas fair was a huge success: lots of people had a go on the microscopes,  and we raised roughly £56!




Posted in: Irchester, Lab13

Irchester News: Egg-cellent Egg Strength!

December 4, 2017

This week the lab 13 blog will be about an egg-cellent experiment with egg shells, carried out by the members of Wednesday Science Club as part of their BP Science Explorers challenge. What they discovered was so surprising; we in the committee repeated the experiment to check the results!

The experiment was to test how strong egg shells are, it involved weights and a book. First, we chose three half egg shells that were about the same size and cut straight round. Then we put them in a big triangle and balanced the book on top. Next, we took some weights and placed them top of the book, spacing the weights out evenly. We repeated adding weights until the egg shells broke.


First science club predicted how much the eggshells would carry. The predictions ranged from 150g to 3kg: most people though the eggshells wouldn’t be very strong. Then they tested them, some eggshells supported 5kg before they broke, and the highest weight was 11.5kg! Everyone found the eggshells were stronger than they thought. As the Committee we wanted to check the results, so we repeated the experiment 3 times: the highest weight supported was 7.9kg, with the lowest being 5.5kg.

We were amazed to discover how much weight the egg shells can carry, much more than our predictions of 4kg. We thought the egg shells would be really weak but they were so strong.

We think egg shell need to be strong to protect the growing animals inside from dying. The eggs could be crushed by the mother sitting on them, or broken if they roll out of the nest, and some predators try to break them open to eat them. The eggshells still need to be thin though, so that the baby animal can break out! The best shape to be strong but thin is… egg shaped! It’s arched just like an arch bridge, which is what we tried making next…


By Josh (Yr 6) and Hayden (Yr 5)

Posted in: Irchester, Lab13

Irchester News: Spooky surprises at Parents Evening

November 22, 2017

When you go to your school parent’s evening, do you get to try cool experiments? Well, at our school, the Lab_13 tried some crazy creepy experiments! These experiments included: using static electricity to make ghosts fly, making witches eyes light up and trying out spoooooooky sounds!

We asked our fellow committee members what their favourite experiments were, here is Ollie’s answer: “I love the static electricity ghost experiment because it was just like a real ghost soaring through the air like a bat in flight!!”


If you would like to create your own ghosts to scare your friends, listen up!  This is what you will need: Toilet paper or tissue, a balloon and, if you want, a pen.  Firstly, cut the tissue into a triangle shape.  Optionally, turn it upside down and draw a menacing face. Rub the balloon up and down on your top to charge it with static electricity. Then, hover it over one of the paper ghosts. The ghost should fly up and attach to the balloon, if not, try a different top, and rub it for a longer period of time.

Emily: My favourite experiment was the spooky sounds because it was amazing how the sounds changed! There was one end of a length of string tied on to the slinky, and the other end was tied in a loop. Put your fingers through the loops and then in your ears and kick the slinky. The noise when it is bobbing up and down will sound awesome!

Finlay: My favourite experiment was the lighting up witch’s eyes where you had a plastic eye ball with two flat metal rectangles on it. When I put my fingers on the metal it lit up! This happens because we complete the circuit, by being the wire the electricity could go through to connect the battery and light.


Finlay and Emily! (yr 5)

Posted in: Irchester, Lab13

Gillespie News: Flying into Physics

November 21, 2017

Y5 have been going to a local community centre where Scarabeus, an aerial theatre company, are based. We go there to learn about the physics behind forces. We put harnesses on and do upside down turns and twists and spins. It’s very fun and memorable. It’s better than just sitting in a lesson being told about forces because this way you get to feel them and experience them.

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 14.28.10

An impressive example of what Scarabeus aerial performers can do (photo taken from their website)

To warm up we do yoga. The yoga is hard but it’s important to stretch your muscles to prepare them for aerial flight. Our favourite yoga positions were the cat and also one where we were back to back and leaning against each other.

We have also been to a secondary school near us to learn more about forces. At Highbury Fields School we did an amazing experiment with an airboard. The teacher turned it off and we had to explain how friction can be helpful and unhelpful. We also did an experiment with paper where we got to rip bits and change their shape making sure the mass was the same. If we hadn’t done that then it wouldn’t have been a fair test. Then we dropped them and compared the times they took to drift to the floor. Nobody’s estimations were correct! We were baffled at how the long pieces of paper simply glided and took longer than the rest. We were flabbergasted that the scrunched up ball of paper took only 63 milliseconds to fall to the floor. And then we had to answer a question to explain which were the fastest and the slowest.

Written by Reuben and Isla (Y5)

Posted in: Gillespie, Lab13

Science Experiments CPD with Lab_13 Rosehill

November 21, 2017

This week the Scientist in Residence at Lab_13 Rosehill, Betti Copperwood, ran a training session for teachers at the school all about how to make science experiments really creative, engaging and educational for pupils. Betti used the theme of ‘air’ to demonstrate different ways of approaching a topic and showing how teachers can use different experiments to illustrate a key point.

Blowing through straws creates a rasping noise and demonstrates how vibrations are created by air; the fact that you can feel the vibrations on your lips makes this particularly effective. There was also the lava-lamp experiment, where you add an alka-seltzer tablet to a bottle with water, oil and food colouring in and you can see the bubbles float to the top of the solution because they are lighter. Putting a tea-light in a bowl surrounded by bicarbonate of soda, lighting the candle and pouring in vinegar demonstrates the existence of a gas because the carbon dioxide produced puts out the candle.

There was also the balloon racing car – the air that is released from the balloon creates a force which moves the car forwards. And finally there was the experiment where you add bicarbonate of soda to vinegar and feed the gas produced through a tube into another bottle of water. This was really popular because it’s a really visual experiment and it is clear to see that a gas has been produced.

The session was very successful and it’s great to see that the Lab_13 in Rosehill is taking hold and having a wider effect on the teaching of science across the school!

Posted in: Lab13, Rosehill

Irchester lab_pets: stick insects!

November 20, 2017

This week on blog we are going to talk about the stick insects: they were jealous after the snails got a whole blog to themselves! Before the holiday we saved stick insect eggs: some hatched over the summer holiday, but suddenly, this week a few more stick insects have hatched! They are living in a little pot at the minute to get used to being in a bigger area. As soon as they get used to their new home and have grown bigger, they will move into their next new home. They are really different to the big ones as they are much paler in colour and are only 1cm long. But they are also similar because they are exactly the same shape, just smaller!


Our medium stick insects are doing really well and love their new home, they are only 3 months old. Soon they will be big enough to move in with the adults!

Our oldest stick insects are doing really well, but sadly one has lost a leg. This happens when they get old, and as stick insects only live for 1 year these ones are really old!

We hope more will hatch soon and they like their new home. We’ve decided to keep 13 stick insects, as we are Lab_13!

By Cheryl (Yr 5) and Sophie (Yr 6)

Posted in: Irchester, Lab13

Gillespie news: the science of space

November 14, 2017

The Science of Space

On the 5th December the science committee have arranged a family learning night, where families can come to learn more about the science of space.

There are a few surprises in store. We are lucky to have some hard-working collaborators working with us including adult scientists and children from other Islington schools.


Our newest Lego set – Women of NASA

There will be Lego building (with a difference!) and star gazing and plenty more including some surprises. This Lego is no ordinary Lego – it’s the brand new Women of NASA set! We will be very happy if you can join us.

Written by Marwa and Anisa, Y5


Posted in: Gillespie, Lab13

Irchester research: how clean are your hands?

November 10, 2017

This week, we will be talking about the experiment Year Four did to find out if washing your hands actually works. They did it to show people how important proper handwashing is, to help keep people healthy and help SAM, our School Attendance Matters dog raise our attendance!

The way the experiment works is the whole group handed around a piece of bread with hands that were not washed, rinsed with water and washed with soap. Each time they used a different piece of bread. The idea was that the germs, bacteria and mould from the hands would be spread onto the bread. We left the bread slices in bags for the germs to grow, but sealed because we didn’t want any illnesses to spread. The control of the experiment is the slice of bread NOT touched by anyone, so we could see the difference our hands made. We also split the group into girls and boys, to see if there was a difference!

The results are…

Boys: Boys’ hands washed with water caused more mould to grow on the bread than dirty hands, probably due to bacteria liking water which helps them grow. Hands washed with soap were the cleanest, but still had quite a bit of mould.

Girls: The girls had the same pattern, but their hands were much cleaner than they boys, and after they washed their hands with soap there was hardly any mould at all!

So year 4 discovered that washing hands with only water actually makes germs spread faster, but using soap really does help. After washing their hands with soap the girls in our group put almost no mould on the bread, it was almost as clean as the control bread. Even though the boys got rid of some germs when washing their hands, maybe they need to be taught how to thoroughly wash their hands!

Year 4 told the rest of the school about their discoveries in assembly, hopefully their research will help all the children (and adults!) keep healthy this winter!

By Oliver (Yr 5) and Josh (Yr 6)

Posted in: Irchester, Lab13

A Big Snail Update from Irchester!

November 9, 2017

There have been lots of goings-on in the Lab_13 snail tank recently, so we thought we’d tell about some of them!

Firstly we have a new arrival in lab_13… It’s a snail. His name is Bobby, though we are hoping to change his name, as he doesn’t seem to answer to Bobby! A Year 1 boy called William gave us Bobby, because they didn’t have enough space for him.  Bobby has settled into his new home really nicely, and made great friends with the other snails. We discovered some interesting news: African snails live for about for the average of TEN YEARS!!!! Bobby is only 1 year old, so he should be with us in the lab for about 9 more years!

If you come into the lab, and find a large square of polystyrene on the side of the snails tank, it’s a new heater! We added the heater because the weather is getting colder, and the African snails despise the cold: they originate from Africa which is very hot. The polystyrene insulates the heater and makes sure all the heat goes into the tank. We also added a mesh hole on the lid to give the snails a bit more fresh air.


Recently, the snails have been getting lots of different foods; they especially liked the pumpkin we gave them. These are the food we gave them: pomegranate, pumpkin, courgette, green pepper, kiwi, beans and blackberries. The reason they got such a choice is that year 5 have been investigating different seeds, and learning that anything with seeds inside it is a fruit, including “vegetables” like tomatoes, pumpkins and runner beans! Once year 5 had chopped the fruits up and dug out as many seeds as they could find, we gave the left overs to the snails.

By Emily, Libby, Brooke and Finlay.


Posted in: Irchester, Lab13

Lab_13 Rosehill at the Nottingham Science Fair!

November 1, 2017

Lab_13 Rosehill was part of the Nottingham Science Fair in October! A group of pupils worked with Betti on experiments which they then presented to other groups of children taking part in the fair.

Pupils from Lab_13 Rosehill made lava lamps mixing oil, water and food colouring and adding an alka seltzer tablet – the gas produced pushes up through the water and oil in bubbles! This experiment was really popular with other children who all wanted a go at making their own.

They also did another experiment blowing up a balloon using the gas produced from the reaction between bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. The balloon fills with a gas that is heavier than normal balloons – when you attach them to a helium balloon, you need three of them to pull it down!

Pupils produced diagrams of their experiments and learnt about different experiments from other children at the Science Fair.

Posted in: Lab13, Rosehill