Background to the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS)
IRIS makes cutting edge research projects open to school students and their teachers so that they can experience the excitement and challenge of science. We do this by making data accessible to schools and also by lending out kits. Students have so much to contribute and who knows what amazing contributions they will make. We have found that teachers too are reinvigorated, appreciate this professional development and also find that it makes the experience of teaching much more enjoyable.
IRIS is a UK registered charity and in the eleven months since launch we have 297 schools signed up with teachers loving the chance to do real science alongside their students with the support and resources of IRIS. We run research symposia and CPD and have a resource bank on our website. Empowering young people to genuinely contribute in science increases their aspiration, their confidence and their enjoyment of science and enables them to be more aware of scientific careers. We are developing programmes across a number of areas including space science, particle physics, material science, transport, marine science and biomedical science. We have a number of national research projects on going, and our project TimPix, measuring the radiation field on the International Space Station has recently been promoted by NASA to US schools
Amongst our supporters are universities, learned societies and industry and our champions Lord Martin Rees and Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz. Partner schools such as St Paul’s Way Trust in Tower Hamlets report increased aspiration and university success with their student researchers. Partner schools report IRIS gives increased knowledge of careers in STEM and the opportunities open to young people. We are developing metrics to evaluate the impact on our six key indicators – ACCCCE – Aspiration, Confidence, Continuation, Contribution, Collaboration and Enjoyment of Science. We realise we are significantly enhancing students’ skills of communication, critical thinking and creativity and helping open their eyes to the possibilities and demands of science.
How is IRIS different to other STEM initiatives?
- A mechanism for collaborative research in cutting edge topics: school students aid in the data analysis and acquisition. Genuine student contributions at the forefront of science and engineering: students aren’t just repeating experiments.
- Reinvigorates teachers and connects them and their students to the careers and excitement in STEM. Teachers involved love this CPD and how it keeps them in touch and inspired in their subject. Many say it keeps them in the profession.
- Longitudinal and not “whizz-bang”: the work is ongoing in a sustained way and the experiments don’t always work.
- These projects make a platform for scientists in universities to engage with students and help them in their research. A number of post docs and PhD students have been happy to have this framework so that they can go into schools to work on an existing project.
- Run festivals/symposia: Allow students to share ideas, speak and present their work alongside academic researchers in that field and collaborate with other schools.
We have an exciting new project coming soon where schools can work with us analysing the atmosphere in your area. Please click here for more information on Amazing Atmospheres.
2 MX-10 detectors arrive in Antarctica click here to find out more.