News and Events

Student scientists showcase at national exhibition

On Monday, 18 March, student scientists from Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing showcased their cutting-edge research findings at the third anniversary celebration of the Institute for Research in Schools at The Francis Crick Institute in London.

Sir Robert Woodard Academy’s work on MELT – where students actively reduce their carbon footprint. Year 9s have been engaging their local primary schools in approaches to carbon reduction. This work was recognised and celebrated by the scientific community this week.  

This is all made possible by the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS), which has given these passionate student scientists in Lancing access to real world and potentially life changing science projects. These students could be the next generation of scientists to change the world as we know it.

IRIS student scientists – right through from primary up to post-grads - form part of a research community, together with their teachers and scientific researchers. Young people working with IRIS can annotate a human whipworm, analyse data from the International Space Station, and tackle fundamental challenges of climate change.

We have a national shortage of scientists and engineers, with Engineering UK estimating that by 2024 we will need to train 186,000 engineers annually to keep up with industry demand, and the current Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) curriculum is not enticing enough to fill that huge gap.

IRIS aims to plug this gap by inspiring the next generation of scientists. Giving these Lancing students first-hand experience of cutting-edge research has a positive impact on the numbers of those who choose to continue studying STEM subjects after they turn 18 – and there’s an actual possibility of them making a scientific discovery before they even go to university.

Professor Becky Parker MBE, Director of the Institute for Research in Schools, said:

“Huge congratulations to our student scientists at Sir Robert Woodard Academy. It was wonderful to celebrate their important contribution to the MELT project at our third anniversary.

“We know from working with almost 250 schools that students need first-hand experience of scientific research for it to ‘stick’. Now is the time to nurture these young scientists in Lancing if we want to bridge the gap between supply and demand in the industry.

“STEM education should give students the opportunity to work on genuine problems facing our communities – whether that is helping fight debilitating diseases in third-world countries or getting to grips with the factors that affect people’s well-being.  Coming face to face with real science is the way to make children fall in love with science - so much so that they continue their studies at A level, onto university and then out into the world as passionate scientists.”

Kieran Scanlon, Principal at Sir Robert Woodard Academy, said:

“Our Director of Science Darren Harman has driven this project with great enthusiasm. He is at the vanguard of how we ensure the school curriculum is relevant, challenging and up to date.  I’m delighted that our students at The Sir Robert Woodard Academy, and students in neighbouring schools have had this opportunity.”

Director of Science Darren Harman, said:

“I’m incredibly proud of our students presenting their MELT project at the Francis Crick Institute in London. They are ambassadors of our school and certainly inspiring to other students in school and local community, to aim high and contribute to cutting-edge science research. A word used repeatedly by world leading scientists listening to our students was ‘phenomenal’ and I couldn’t agree more.”

Robert Fellingham, Year 9 student at Sir Robert Woodard Academy, said:

“This project gave me an opportunity to actually research a globally important problem and come up with solutions for it. It also helped me build important skills such as teamwork, communication and organisation.”

Ethan Standen, Year 9 student at Sir Robert Woodard Academy, said:

“When we went to the Crick event in London, we presented our ideas in front of an audience ranging from our peers through to world leading scientists. This was daunting but really helped build my confidence when public speaking.”

Connor Godley, Year 9 student at Sir Robert Woodard Academy, said:

“This project inspired me to think about and introduce new forms of carbon reduction we could use in school. I enjoyed working as a team to accomplish one goal.”