Peele Community College, Lincolnshire Launches Lab 13… A pioneering science space managed by young people for young people

Tuesday 30th March sees the launch of Lab 13 at Peele Community College.  Peele Community College in Long Sutton, Lincolnshire will be unveiling its new dedicated science space, where experiments are driven by imagination and curiosity, independently of the curriculum.

The college will be host to one of the six Lab 13s created across the East Midlands, designed as a ‘space for creative science learning’ managed by young people for young people.  The first Lab opened last April (2009) at Dovecote Primary School, Nottingham.

The students impressed the selection panel with their vision, enthusiasm, and well thought-out plans.  Rick Hall, Director of Programmes for Ignite!, said: “When we visited Peele for the first time to assess their readiness to take on a Lab 13, what impressed the panel most was the leadership of the Management Team who had already worked out what important roles they would need to manage the Lab.  The school clearly believed in encouraging young people to take a lead, and Nathan Drew and his team were very enthusiastic to get started.”

Lab 13 is funded by East Midlands Development Agency’s (emda’s) £9m Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) initiative through the Ignition* Programme, and delivered by The Mighty Creative’s and Ignite! The aim of the project is to encourage students to take responsibility for a science space to conduct their own experiments independently of the curriculum, and to encourage creativity in science learning.

A Management Team, made up of students aged 11-16 years, worked together to develop a wide range of experiments they wanted to explore and fundraising activities.  Each student selected a management role to decide how the space would be used, and was involved in the appointment of a scientist in residence, Dr Lindsey Shaw Greening who will be based at the school full-time to support the students during science experiments and discovery.

Members of the Lab 13 Management Team, said: “Our Lab 13 will be a place where possibilities are endless.  We will use it to explore all sorts of science, technology, engineering and maths.  It is a place where you can let your imagination grow. We have been working for the last term to get the Lab ready and are excited about our launch day.”

Impressed by the enthusiasm of the students and the school’s commitment, Cynthia Onions, Head of Employment Learning and Skills at emda said: “This project is a pioneering development in the education of science subjects and Lab 13 will provide a dedicated space for pupils at Peele Community College and encourage them to push their learning beyond the curriculum. We’re pleased to support these young people as they embrace science and hopefully choose it as a future career which will help the region to flourish over the long term.”

1. Lab 13 is a dedicated science space in a school managed by young people for young people, with a scientist/inventor in residence who will encourage creativity in science learning.

1. Lab 13 is a dedicated science space in a school managed by young people for young people, with a scientist/inventor in residence who will encourage creativity in science learning.

2. Lab 13 is based on Room 13, which started in 1994 at Caol Primary School in Scotland, an art room where activities are decided by the pupils.

3. The Peele Community College in Lincolnshire, Crown Hills Community College in Leicestershire and Dovecote Primary School in Nottingham are the first 3 out of 6 Labs to be awarded funding.  The awarding panel comprised Hugh James, Director of The Mighty Creative’s, Rick Hall, Director of Programmes for Ignition*, Sarah Walley, Programme Manager for Ignition*, Susan Anderson, Head of the Advanced Microscopy Unit at The University of Nottingham and Tracey Barton, Science Teacher at Dovecote Primary School, who was invited to the panel after Dovecote was awarded its funding.

4. Lab 13 is part of the Ignition* programme – ‘Ignition*’ is an inspiring region-wide programme of activities, competitions and workshops that engage young people – both in and out of school – to encourage creative thinking skills in relation to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

CPE-PEN. Where could  more of this kind of thinking lead mainstream thinking?  It is to be hoped that youngsters really are given the time and support to take their own ideas forward independently of curriculum constraints. Wouldn’t this be a great resource for the whole community… of whatever age and whether in school or not?!

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