Innovative science project launched across Suffolk schools
An innovative new pilot scheme to immerse children in science has been launched in Suffolk primary schools with plans to expand across East Anglia.
The Schools Science Project, which is being run by West Suffolk College and sponsored by Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, already involves collaboration with 19 schools across the county.
The scheme is the brainchild of West Suffolk College principal Nikos Savvas and involves different science activities for five to seven-year-old pupils to carry out in a hands-on way.
Dr Savvas, who is a physicist, said the Bury St Edmunds-based college wanted to support primary schools to enhance their scientific education, and the next step is to expand the projects so that more schools and pupils can benefit.
The project sees schools receive boxes containing components for activities plus worksheets for pupils to fill in before and after their lesson.
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The boxes include various household items such as ketchup, marshmallows, spaghetti and water spray for different science activities.
The project is being run by Victoria Fiebelkorn, schools science coordinator, based at West Suffolk College.
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She said: “The idea is to introduce them to the excitement of science at a very early age. Picasso said, ‘All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up’.
“I would say the same for science, from a very young age we can see babies testing and evaluating the world around them - that’s science.”
Alaric Pugh, cabinet member for planning and growth at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “West Suffolk is in between Cambridge and Norwich, two scientific capitals of the UK, with world beating research and design on our doorstep.
“To make sure our youngsters have the best chance in the future to benefit from this and maybe grow their own companies here or even find a cure for deadly diseases we think it’s right to support the teaching of STEM subjects in west Suffolk.
“Research has shown that schools cannot always afford the equipment needed or have the required skills. That is why we are investing in our youngsters’ and west Suffolk’s future by funding scientific boxes and training to be used in local primary schools to give them the best possible start.
“This is part of our work as councils to deliver more than just high quality services but support and invest in new initiatives that will grow our economy and make a real difference in people’s lives.”
Lance Stanbury, cabinet member for planning and growth at Forest Heath District Council, said: “This is a great initiative between us, St Edmundsbury and West Suffolk College supporting local schools to deliver STEM subjects.
“Not only are the boxes useful in teaching and inspiring the scientists of the future but the training can be used by teachers to help other students coming through.
“On average this would cost a school at least £5,000 for the boxes alone which many find hard to afford.
“West Suffolk benefits from having or being close to top academic and business organisations that rely on STEM subjects and it is only right that our youngsters should be helped to take advantage of that. This is an innovative scheme from West Suffolk College and we hope to see it expand.”