Innovative Phiz Lab opened at St Peter’s Junior School

Science ambassadors with parents, Ogden Trust's Sonia Teruel and St Peter's Science Lead Nathan Williams

By Peter Barnett

There’s a real fizz of excitement at St Peter’s Junior School, Broadstairs, following the official opening of their ground-breaking Phiz Lab.

The purpose-designed hub in the school grounds enables children to enjoy a broader hands-on experience when it comes to exploring the world of physics and general science.

Opened in partnership with the charitable Ogden Trust, the centre’s welcome celebration saw the children working through a range of experiments and activities with parents joining in to broaden their learning horizons.

The Phiz Lab will be used for lessons for St Peter’s pupils and those from partnership schools, as well as being used for staff professional development and a range of community science events. It will also be open to local schools that are not in the partnership.

Nathan Williams, the school’s award-winning Science Lead, said feedback from the opening had been fantastic and children and staff are looking forward to exploring a whole range of learning opportunities in the hub.

He said: “It was great to see the science conversation between parents and their children.  The activities at the opening were all physics related – magnets (balancing hex nuts on the side of a glass), floating and sinking (can you make a ball of playdough float) and flying a vortex aeroplane (how far can you throw it.).”

St Peter’s has its own team of science ambassadors in their smart lab coats. Their ongoing role is help raise the profile of science within the school community, to deliver playground science activities at lunchtime, hand out resources and support children to complete enquiry-based science. They helped to give ideas about what the Phiz Lab should be like and help maintain the science resources in the school.

Mr Williams explained: “I was approached by the Ogden Trust to see if I would like to join the Kent North Coast Partnership and oversee the primary side. I joined and other school we work closely with – Holy Trinity Margate, Holy Trinity Ramsgate, Palm Bay and St Gregory’s, Margate also became part of the partnership.”

St Peter’s is one of ten schools in the partnership working collaboratively to develop the physics teaching and learning in all schools. These include a mixture of primary and secondary schools in Canterbury and Thanet. Funds are provided for staff professional development and science capital opportunities for all children in the cluster.

Science Ambassadors with Mr Williams & Sonia Teruel Ogden Trust Programme Administrator

Head Teacher Tim Whitehouse believes the Phiz Lab will help expand the ‘fantastic work that already takes place in our classrooms.”

He added: “Children have the opportunity to talk and experiment in our very own mini laboratory, preparing them perfectly for science at secondary school. Our mini lab means that our mini scientists may well grow into the scientists of the future – who knows what innovations and advances they may invent.

“It was an inspirational opening event, and we were pleased that Mrs Palmer-Simpson, the Head Teacher of Callis Grange, joined us as this is a resource that will be used by children of both schools.”

Sonia Teruel from Ogden trust and St Peter chair of governors James Boulton

He praised the determined, innovative and enthusiastic work of Nathan Williams who was last year awarded Science Teacher of the Year. Mr Whitehouse said: “He has brought science to life at St Peter’s and this new Phiz Lab gives the children a special place to carry out their investigations in a fantastic scientific environment.”

Other guests included Chair of Governors James Boulton, who said the hub is an integral part of the ongoing development of St Peter’s, and Ogden Trust programme administrator Sonia Teruel. She said she was so pleased to see parents learning alongside the children as that helps the learning to extend beyond the classroom. She believes that every child should be taught practical physics as a way to gain a deeper understanding of how the world works.

Mr Williams, who is a Year 3 teacher, received the prestigious Primary Science Teacher Award presented at the Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) ceremony last year. He added: “It is for children to understand how the science that they learn can be used later in life. I genuinely believe everyone can be a scientist and I hope we are inspiring the next generation of science leaders at St Peter’s.”

Professor Dudley Shallcross, CEO of the Primary Science Trust, praised Mr Williams’ “innovative practice and exceptional dedication to primary science teaching.” He said: “His impact on teaching and learning of science has been extensive, with significant support being provided for colleagues at the school and for others within the region.”

This is the second science award for the school which last year received the Primary Science Quality Mark for its ongoing development of the science curriculum within the school.

*The charitable Ogden Trust exists to promote the teaching and learning of physics, by enabling innovative physics teaching to take place in, and collaboratively between, schools, often forging links to universities and other organisations.

Cameron Ogden, Chair of The Ogden Trust, states: “Physics as a subject has a huge importance in the world today. We are determined to ensure that everyone has access to good quality, inspiring physics education and that no one feels excluded from taking physics further.”

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