27 06

IRIS stars shine at Science Museum launch

The stars of the show when IRIS celebrated its official launch at the Science Museum in London on 3 March were undoubtedly the students who are already blazing a trail in classroom-based research.

Sixth formers from Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury; Bohunt School in Hampshire; Ayr Academy, Scotland; St Paul’s Way Trust School in east London; St Paul’s School in west London; Sutton Grammar School, Surrey; Cardinal Newman College in Preston; and Tapton School , Sheffield demonstrated some of the projects IRIS is already supporting and introduced new programmes being developed to an illustrious audience.

These included CERN@school, which uses technology developed by CERN for use in schools, and the Langton Ultimate Cosmic ray Intensity Detector (LUCID), which is currently on board the TechDemoSat-1 satellite measuring space weather.

Students also exhibited the Multiple Sclerosis Myelin Basic Protein Project, supported by the Wellcome Trust; CERN@sea, which will see the oceans' radiation levels measured using detector chips; a collaborative project which gives students access to a research grade table top scanning electron microscope to investigate iridescence in beetles; and a DNA research project from students in Tower Hamlets looking at the prevalence of diabetes in the local community.

Director Becky Parker described IRIS’ vision to empower young people to be part of the scientific community. “We want to see them experience the thrill of discovery and get stuck into real, substantial projects rather than just repeating experiments that have been done a thousand times,” she said.

This theme was taken up by Professor Larry Pinsky, Chair of Physics at the University of Houston and NASA dosimetry expert, who commented: “If you can give students the thrill of discovery it will be contagious, it will be addictive.”

Among over 500 guests who attended the launch were Lord Martin Rees, Dame Mary Archer, Professor Danielle George, and NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough (via video link) as well as a wide range of leading academics from major UK universities, The Royal Society, The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, Institute of Physics, Science and Technology Facilities Council, Wellcome Trust, and representatives from key industries.

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