About Us

The Institute for Research in Schools (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 have projects available across the sciences.

In partnership with universities and research institutes we make data accessible to schools, provide support for teachers through webinars and other resources, and lend out scientific research equipment. All schools are encouraged to share the work they have been doing through presenting a paper or poster at one of our research conferences.

Lord Martin Rees said at the IRIS launch:

“Not only will schools and universities benefit but science itself will benefit”

Professor Alan Barr of the University of Oxford describes his experience in partnering with IRIS on the Higgs Hunters project:

“I’m really excited that the Higgs Hunters project, which I initially with some others set up with a particular goal in mind, has morphed into something that’s been taken in so many different directions by so many different students. There’s no way that we ourselves could have even come up with all of the questions that these students are asking. So we’re getting so much more value out of this data from CERN, because of the independent and creative ways in which these students are thinking about it. It’s just fantastic.”

We want all school and college students to be able to do genuine scientific work at the cutting edge. The science community therefore becomes one where schools, colleges, universities and research institutes collaborate for the greater benefit of all.

recent news

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.

July 2019 – Higgs Hunters wins Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Award

Higgs Hunters has won a Project Award in this year’s University of Oxford Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Awards.

The announcement was made at an awards ceremony at the Keble College, Oxford, on 10th July hosted by Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson. Professors Alan Barr and Chris Lintott were recognised for their Higgs Hunters project that enables citizen scientists to look for evidence of the ‘Baby Higgs’.

“One of the most innovative aspects to the project was enabling UK school students to analyse the data and perform their own independent research. The students then presented their findings at a conference, alongside researchers from the University. Their findings have been written up as proceedings – these are the first of their kind to be submitted to a CERN experiment” says Professor Barr.

July 2019 – Science Apprenticeships starting in Sept 2019

All apprentices will work towards a Level 3 BTEC in Applied Science whilst being employed and paid by their employer:

**Closing date: 4 July**

Johnson Matthey in Sonning are both looking for science apprentices to start in September to work in their Air Quality Team.

**Closing date: 5 July**

The National Physical Laboratory is based in Teddington in Middlesex

**Closing date 15 July**

Catalent based in Swindon are looking for apprentices to join their QC labs

June 2019 - Royal Society Student Conference Call Out ***Deadline extended***

There is an exciting opportunity to showcase your work completed through IRIS at the Royal Society student conference on Tuesday 19 November 2019. The student conference is an annual conference, which celebrates investigative, research based STEM work of secondary school students from across the country. It is a fantastic opportunity for your students to experience a real scientific conference and engage with their peers and invited guests, including Fellows of the Royal Society. The day will include a student showcase, workshop and key note speech. The conference is a unique opportunity for you and your students and a wonderful way to share and celebrate your students’ work. The Royal Society will provide financial support to help schools attend the conference. If you are interested in being involved in the conference please Contact Us for an expression of interest form. You will then need to complete this form and send it to the Royal Society Schools Engagement team. The deadline has been extended to 30 June 2019.

May 2019 – Paper published

ScienceDirect have recently published our paper: Transforming education with the Timepix detector - Ten years of CERN@school. You can read the abstract here.

May 2019 – Changes at IRIS

Professor Becky Parker will be stepping down as Director of IRIS from 31st August, and will be returning to teaching so that she can be closer to home following family health issues. Becky has been offered a post as the Head of Physics at Benenden School and will be taking up this post from the new academic year.

Becky has done so much for IRIS since setting up the charity in 2016 and we owe her a huge debt of gratitude. Her passion, enthusiasm and determination to help young people – and many adults! – ‘see the light’ on science has been a driving force during IRIS’ first few years. We are therefore delighted that Becky will continue to be part of our work as Founder. She will also continue to be involved in various IRIS projects over this term and, I am sure, will continue to fly the IRIS flag in her new school.

Since Becky told us her news we have been working on finding a successor, and I am delighted to announce the Board was unanimous in its decision to appoint Dr Jo Foster as Director, from the start of the new academic year in September.

As you may know, Jo is currently a trustee of IRIS, and will of course be stepping down from the Board. Jo is a formidable leader in the science community, working at Camborne Science and International Academy in Cornwall where she is Vice Principal and Director of the Nexus STEM Programme and Cornwall School of Maths and Science, which is a specialist STEM centre for Post-16 education.

An exceptional classroom practitioner and educational leader, Jo is a Trustee of the Science Museum Group, and also a Member of the Royal Society’s Education Committee.

Jo’s track record speaks for itself, and she was without question an outstanding candidate for the role of Director. We are very excited that she is taking up this post at a time when IRIS is going from strength to strength.

I am sure you will want to join me in congratulating Becky and Jo in their appointments and we look forward to working with you over the coming terms and years.

In the meantime, the summer term promises plenty of ‘proper science’ up and down the country as a result of the work that you are all doing, and we thank you for your continued engagement and support.

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