Funding plea for children’s Highbury science lab

Children at Lab_13

Children at Lab_13 - Credit: Archant

A pioneering science lab where children design and carry out their own experiments is seeking funds so that it can stay open to nurture the next generation of scientists.

Lab_13, which has been running for two years at Gillespie Primary School in Highbury, aims to introduce children to science by allowing them to design and carry out their own experiments. It was originally part-funded by Islington Council.

But that funding runs out at end of this year and so it is trying to raise £20,000 to keep going.

Resident scientist and part-time physics teacher Carole Kenrick said the work of the lab is vital for children to channel their curiosity – and feel valued.

She said: “I don’t expect all of them to become scientists and inventors, but I hope that the knowledge, understanding, skills and habits of mind that they develop will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. And that more than average will end up as scientists and inventors.”

The young scientists have already made a name for themselves when their trial on the health benefits of manuka honey featured in the national press.

Ofsted has also praised the work of Lab_13 for its high level of academic and scientific achievements.

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The lab is much loved by teachers and parents who joined a sponsored jamboree in Clissold Park in October that raised nearly £2,000. Now the lab is just hundreds away from reaching its £20,000 target.

Amelia French, 52, who helped bring the lab to Islington in 2014 and has a child at the school, said: “From what I have seen, Lab_13 has a really profound effect on children. They seem to grasp the idea that they can investigate something themselves with immense enthusiasm.

“It seems to me that a questioning mind is a learning mind.

“We hear the business world complaining that the UK education system does not produce children or young adults with science and technology skills. They say they also lack social skills and confidence and are not articulate. Lab_13 ticks every one of those boxes.”

She called on local businesses to help support the lab: “It would be wonderful if local businesses would take an interest in the local workforce of the future and support us,” she said.

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