Authentic research your students can do at home

With multiple public health measures to slow and suppress the spread of coronavirus, we appreciate many passionate young researchers will be at home or not have the opportunity to continue their research as normal. We also know that many schools are sending home ‘work packs’ with students so we thought we would try to help.

Marcus, our lovely team member and science teacher, has developed the Research in Schools – At Home project - a research project students can do from home; no classroom, teacher or lab equipment needed.

This Research in Schools – At Home project, based on the James Webb Space Telescope, allows students to explore key GCSE Physics themes such as the Electromagnetic Spectrum and Life Cycle of a Star. It introduces students to the advance skills of Photometry and Spectroscopy expanding learning outside the curriculum and developing their science capital. This is real science and students will be using similar techniques and sources that post graduate astronomers are using at universities across the world! The project is suitable as a challenge for Year 10 and 11 students and high ability Year 9 students. KS5 students can also complete this project.

Completing this project will represent approximately 10 hours’ work for a student carrying it out at home. When the project is complete, it is submitted to us by the student and we will issue all participating students with a certificate.

We’ll still be here in September, ready to help you inspire and excite your students with more cutting-edge research that they can carry out in school.

If there is anything you think we can help with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and each other.

With all best wishes,
Jo and the team at IRIS

We’ve now sorted the projects into categories to help to make things a bit clearer. Information on all these projects can be found on the project pages on the website. If you want to get in touch with us about any of the projects then email us at


Seed projects are those that the school gets the most support with. They are ‘beginning with Research’ projects for schools new to IRIS, or who want a straightforward introduction. They have the most support from IRIS and are the most straightforward.

Examples of current ‘Seed’ projects are: TreeZilla, Carbon Calculator, MELT.

Growing Acorn

Sprout projects are a little more advanced. Students carrying out Sprout projects are either using their own questions, or carrying out some complex activity to collaborate with scientists to answer a question.

Examples of current ‘Sprout’ projects are: James Webb Space Telescope, Ionic Liquids, Genome Decoders, TimPix and the MX10 Detector, MELT and Vertigo. Both the Mx10 detector and Vertigo will only be loaned to schools if we have received a project proposal from the school.

Oak Tree

Grow projects are those where the students have proposed entirely their own question and are investigating this. They may be using data or resources available through the IRIS data server or collecting their own data and information. These projects are hugely varied and may include linking some data from the data server to other data sets. IRIS supports these students by providing support to write academic posters and papers and providing opportunities to speak at conferences and events.

recent news

6 March - 4 Memorable Ways to bring particle states to life

Jo James, teacher at Chipping Camden School, Gloucestershire gives us quick and effective tips

February 2020 – When I was 18, I published a scientific research paper

On International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Lauren Charters explains how she began her research career at school

November 2019 – How to help your pupils shine at science

The Times Education Supplement talks to Jo Foster, director of the Institute for Research in Schools, about 'winkling out' the gifted scientists in every school

September 2019 – How 'real science' inspires pupils into Stem careers

Dan Chapman explains how participating in authentic research can help encourage pupils to pursue Stem careers

June 2019 – Could this be the answer to the Stem teacher shortage?

Lizzie Rushton and Professor Michael Reiss give an alternative to cash incentives to entice maths and physics teachers to stay in the profession.

August 2019 – Paper published

We are delighted to share with you the latest research paper from IRIS, which explores the experiences of school students who present their research at conferences. This paper is available online at:

For more information, please email

July 2019 – New Trustee: Prof Michael Reiss

IRIS is delighted to welcome Prof Michael Reiss who joins us as a Trustee. He is a Professor of Science Education at UCL Institute of Education, University College London; Visiting Professor at the Universities of Kiel and York and the Royal Veterinary College; Honorary Fellow of the British Science Association and of the College of Teachers; Docent at the University of Helsinki and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. His research and consultancy interests are in science education, sex education, curriculum studies and bioethics.

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