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

March 2019 – Please see the following notice from the Royal Society:

Join us for our free Summer Science Exhibition 2019

Group booking for schools is now open for the Summer Science Exhibition 2019, which celebrates the latest UK science and research. The exhibition takes place during the first week of July and group booking allows teachers to secure places to visit on a specific day. The school sessions are intended for students who would like to find out about research currently taking place in the UK and to meet those involved. Do take a look at last year's exhibits for a taste of what is in store.

This year we are offering two different booking options for school groups:

  • If you are keen to bring students aged 14 – 18 for a three hour slot on either Monday, Tuesday or Friday, please book here.
  • If you are keen to bring students aged 16 –18 to a special A-level day on Wednesday or Thursday, please book here.

Places are allocated on a first come first served basis so book early to secure your session.

Coming up in June/July 2019 – IRIS Student Conferences 2019

All IRIS schools are welcome to present the science projects they are working on (IRIS and non-IRIS projects). Book your free student, teacher and guest tickets through Eventbrite now! Contact us if you need a reminder of the link.

20 June 2019 – Edinburgh

25 June 2019 – Exeter

27 June 2019 – York

1 July 2019 – London

12 July 2019 – Cambridge

January 2019

Eleven teachers from across the country spoke in an IRIS keynote lecture at the Association for Science Education Annual Meeting in January in Birmingham.

They each described their approach and their work in four minutes and covered primary through to secondary and all the IRIS research projects.

December 2018

Some of our IRIS students attended the Student Conference on 4 December at the Royal Society to communicate the findings of their research with other schools, teachers and Royal Society fellows. We all enjoyed the keynote speech by Prof Jim Al-khalili and even got a picture of him with our Director, Becky and Boroughbridge High School teacher, Colin.

December 2018

First results from the LUCID-Timepix spacecraft payload onboard the TechDemoSat-1 satellite in Low Earth Orbit. This is an IRIS academic paper, published in the peer-reviewed journal: Advances in Space Research in October 2018.

December 2018 – Resources

Excellent resources ,which you may find useful for your projects, can be found here:

October 2018 – MELT Project

Students at the Sir Robert Woodard Academy are finding answers to the complexities of climate change through a new project supported by the Institute for Research in Schools. Currently ready roll out to all schools, the MELT project offers students the chance to contribute to the understanding of our planet’s environmental changes. Students become Carbon Researchers, Climate Force Ambassadors and Earth Observation Scientists, promoting future careers in STEM subjects and garnering the potential to transform the legacy of science in their lives.

September 2018 - Well World in the News

The launch of Well World has been featured in a number of publications.

September 2018 - Welcome to the new year

Welcome to the new year and what a year it’s going to be with regional conferences next summer to look forward to and a whole range of inspirational projects for you and your students to work on. You’ll have received an email with details of the kick off webinar, conference dates and your school point of contact. Please attend this webinar and complete the survey in your email so that your poc can plan how best to support you and your students with your IRIS projects.

June 2018 – Teacher Scientists: combining teaching and scientific research

Becky Parker, our Director, explains in Education in Chemistry, an online resource for chemistry and science teachers, how IRIS is building a career pathway for teachers who don’t want to climb up the management route but want to stay in their subject. She highlights that by doing research, teachers develop their careers outwards rather than upwards.

June 2018 – Garfield Weston Grant

We are thrilled to announce that we have been awarded a grant from the Garfield Weston Foundation to develop our MELT climate change project further. Thanks to the UK Space Agency initial grant we were able to establish two MELT hubs, Sir Robert Woodard Academy, Lancing and Stirling High School, Stirling. The Garfield Weston Foundation grant has enable us to establish these two hubs with a teacher scientist for a year. A teacher scientist is a teacher with one day a week to do research with their students and with students in around fifteen local primary and secondary schools. This model for rolling out our research projects allows the teacher to reconnect with research and have some time to develop this research project. To connect with the Coastal or Central Scotland hub please get in touch with us and see the news on MELT.

April/May 2018 – MELT

Our latest project MELT launched earlier this term, supported by UK Space Agency. With growing concern over the rate of Polar Ice cap melting, this IRIS project lies at the heart of allowing students to contribute to this research. Students can either annotate the latest images using SENTINEL-1 data or use them to calculate calving rates of glaciers. They can also complete a carbon usage audit of their school using a bespoke online calculator. The MELT project is in collaboration with Dr Anna Hogg of Leeds University and the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling.

February 2018 - Girls don’t need special, gendered initiatives to get inspired about STEM subjects – just let them be scientists

Our Director, Becky Parker, argues that girls don’t need specialist programmes to get them interested in STEM subjects, they just need to get stuck in. You can read the full article here.

January 2018 - Who inspired my thinking? – Young people, and teachers who encourage their creative thinking

Becky Parker, our Director, is published in ‘Research for All’, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal focusing on research that involves universities and communities, services or industries working together. In this article, Becky reflects on the people who inspired her career and how these experiences have shaped her vision for IRIS where school students are inspired by real science.

August 2017 – How to enhance learning with real-life data

Innovate My School is an organisation dedicated to sharing what other schools are doing to push boundaries. They support the discovery of emerging tools and trends and so feature an interview with our Director, Becky Parker, on how IRIS seeks to transform STEM education through access to real science.

Royal Society Student Conference

Students from several IRIS schools – Abingdon Science Partnership, The Coopers & Coburn School, Camden School for Girls and Sir Robert Woodard Academy have all been working hard on their projects, preparing presentations to be made to the invited guests at the Royal Society on the 1st March. Unfortunately, due to the weather the conference was cancelled but to make sure everyone gets the opportunity to see the great work, here are their posters to review. Well done to everyone, and hopefully there will be a new date sometime soon.

Those of you who attended the launch will remember Dr. Maria Duque and her presentation of the devastating effect of the Human Whipworm in her native Colombia.

Maria has launched a new website that will document her work in Colombia working with a primary School. The website launched today and will be regularly updated. In three weeks’ time, Maria will be carrying out a deworming and public engagement programme in a town in the Caribbean coast of Colombia where there is a prevalence of 50% of whipworm infections.

Throughout the project Maria will be tweeting using the #wormhunters. Please encourage your students to visit the website and keep abreast of her visit, and get a feel for just how much of a contribution they are making in working on this project. It would be great if you could promote the website and tweets to all your students and your wider network so they can see some of the frontline work that is taking place.

Write an Academic Paper – watch these two brief videos on just how easy it is to write a paper.

Catch up on the November symposia from RAL (CERN@School) ] and The Wellcome Trust (Authentic Biology).

Interested in space and potential careers? Read the latest news and sign up for newsletters here

Are you an active IRIS school?

Please see our new “How to“ guide on data analysis

It is that time of year again when students are completing their school education before moving on to work or university, if you have worked on an IRIS project and want to keep in touch please join our alumni

Free public access to NASA research data can be found here

IRIS students have been writing up the research projects as an EPQ. Have a look here at just a few examples of the amazing work being undertaken.

Watch the new introductory overview for IRIS

check our new exciting projects

active schools