Research in Schools – At Home

Investigate the Electromagnetic Spectrum, explore the Life Cycle of a Star and delve into the world of Astronomy

This Research in Schools – At Home project, based on the James Webb Space Telescope, allows students to explore key 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.

Brought to you by IRIS and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), this project supports teachers and parents with home schooling during this difficult time. Students will be exploring techniques used in professional astronomical research to examine data from the Spitzer Space Telescope and gain an understanding of how sources will be selected for further study with the James Webb Space Telescope. The project is aimed at 14 to 17-year-old students and is designed to complement the curriculum of all countries of the United Kingdom.

The project is designed to take around 10 hours’ work for a student carrying it out at home and can be completed by students not registered with IRIS. When they have finished the project students who submit their answers to IRIS will receive a certificate recognising their achievement along with feedback.

A Year 13 Student from David’s Catholic College in Wales, was the first student to complete the Research in Schools – At Home project. He said:

“I thoroughly enjoyed [the] IRIS Home Research Project as it provided the opportunity to use real-world data from the Spitzer telescope and let me experience the style of work that astronomers may do. As with much of physics, I found the content to be enjoyable and the application to be more challenging. It was an exciting opportunity to attempt to classify each object correctly.”

“It provided the perfect opportunity to recap some physics topics that I had done in the past as well as discover new and exciting aspects of them. It has greatly improved my graph analysis abilities.”

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.

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November 2019 – How to help your pupils shine at science

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

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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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