The launch of a new community lab at Discovery Park is set to revolutionise the quality of science education in East Kent – giving local schools access to state-of-the-art facilities to bring lessons to life.
Using East Kent College laboratory space, groups of up to 16 secondary aged students will be able to use a range of specialist instruments and equipment as part of their science lessons.
The project is being driven by Pfizer and Discovery Park plus a number of other tenants on site, including East Kent College, Kent and Medway STEM and Canterbury Christ Church University.
The idea behind the new facility is to provide local schools with hands-on access to science equipment not usually available to them, but which are needed to complete part of the national science curriculum, including:
- A bench top NMR for organic molecule structure determination
- An FT-IR spectrometer for material identification
- Synthetic chemistry equipment
- Access to six industry standard fume cupboards
- Research grade light microscopes
- Access to ‘Lab in a Box’ equipment such as PCR (polymerase chain reaction) which copies or amplifies small segments of DNA or RNA, gel electrophoresis for subsequent analysis and thermal imaging cameras
Teachers and students will be able to use the lab to carry out experiments to support their learning, as well as to benefit from time with working scientists.
Don Clark, an analytical chemist with Pfizer who is leading on the project, said:
“We have identified that many schools lack even the most basic equipment and saw an opportunity to engage with students who may well become the scientists of tomorrow, providing access to materials needed to teach essential parts of the curriculum.
“Schools will be able to come to Discovery Park and actually do some real chemistry with real scientists. It’s going to add a whole new dimension to the teaching of science in East Kent.”
Kimberley Anderson, Corporate Relations Manager, Discovery Park, said: “We have something really special here at Discovery Park – talented scientists who want to pass on their skills to inspire future generations; companies who understand the value of outreach work.
“We have a real opportunity here to connect education with the workplace and are very excited to get this project off the ground.”