Richmond Scientific Society has made a donation of £500 towards equipment to help set up a Junior School Science Lab. Report as follows:

I would like to thank you so much for your grant that allowed us to purchase a significant amount of equipment for our STEM Hub. The equipment included: magnets and magnetic field frames, retort stands and their necessary fixings, masses, rechargeable stopwatches and a set of safety goggles. All of the equipment is in constant use, both in lessons to facilitate and enrich the delivery of the National Curriculum for Primary Science, and for extracurricular activities such as STEM Club. Through the use of this equipment, we have been able to both support and extend the children’s learning, particularly in respect of allowing them to choose appropriate equipment for their own investigations.

As some examples, we use the retort stands for many purposes, but one of the most fun was during our Squashed Tomato Challenge (a Practical Action resource) at STEM Club. The idea is that the children are Nepalese tomato farmers, and their farms are at the top of a mountain. They must devise a way to transport their tomatoes to the market in the valley without squashing them. The children use the retort stands as the pylons to engineer their own cable car systems.

The stands have also been used in outreach with local Cub Packs to do a bit of chemistry, and to support drip bottles to recreate and observe wave patterns on a sandy beach with Year 3.

Using a retort stand to investigate the stability of different particle sizes >>

Some of the equipment in our STEM Hub, including the retort stands

We use the masses regularly as well, particularly in our physics lessons. However, as an example of their use in biology as well as physics, Year 6 use them to measure the force required to crack an egg. This is always fun, if a bit messy, and the children are always surprised by the force required.

Two investigations using our masses: we found out if our bridges could support more or less weight than an egg

Our magnets are used mainly in Year 3 for teaching magnetism, but are also borrowed by our early Years team. With the intent of increasing the Science Capital in our school community, we have also sent some magnets home in our Science Home Learning Bags for the children to explore magnetism further with their families.

The stopwatches are in constant use throughout the curriculum, in fact so much so that we have subsequently had to buy another pack! We would like to thank you again for your support; having high quality equipment makes the children’s experience of science so much more enriching and relevant. It also plays a major role in developing their working scientifically skills. And I am very pleased to be able to say that none of the equipment is sitting in a cupboard gathering dust!