Creating the network of Lab_13 in Nottingham North

Lead Research Organisation: Ignite Futures Ltd
Department Name: Director of Programmes Office


1 Growing Community Engagement In Scientific Culture - To improve science capital in families and communities and help Nottingham become a city of scientific culture. We aim to encourage a public perception of Nottingham as the most curious city in England.
By working in schools and local communities our aim is that young people will shift perceptions that science is relevant to their lives and that Space Science in particular is a topic of cultural interest.
Our anecdotal evidence from many years of public engagement projects, and especially among disadvantaged communities, is that young people and their families are hesitant and inhibited in engaging with science by a perception that the subject is hard, mostly conducted in remote locations like universities, and is 'not for the likes of them'. (Separately, the Nottingham STEMCity Partnership are considering commissioning a public attitudes survey.) Such inhibitions translate as a disinclination to even ask questions of scientific significance; there is, therefore, a cultural imperative to support curiosity. Lab_13 aims to foster an ethos of curiosity and inquiry prompted by users' questions rather than the demands of the science syllabus.

2 Growing Partnerships and Links across Education Institutions and Improving Attainment - To build better links between research and the classroom, and to inspire more children and young people to take up further STEM study and careers. By combining curiosity, creativity and science, and working particularly at primary level we aim to create memorable and inspiring experiences through Lab_13 that will remain with young people and their families into their adult lives.
The links we wish to develop through this programme include promotion of the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS) in secondary schools in Nottingham North (there is currently only one registered IRIS school in the city). The Lab_13 Network in Nottingham North will thus complement IRIS in secondary schools; our objectives linked to this aim include developing shared projects of investigation across the year groups; and combined presentations at meetings and symposia, notably at the Festival of Science and Curiosity.

3 Growing the Lab_13 Network - To establish and strengthen links between Lab_13s, in Nottingham, across the UK network and overseas. Lab_13 started in Nottingham in 2008, and now has three in the city, including Lab_13 Rosehill for children with autism (supported by STFC grant ST/P001548/1). Lab_13s also operate in London, Wellingborough and overseas in Ghana and Finland. With support from an RSA catalyst award, and a bequest from the estate of our former Chair, we are planning to open Lab_13s in other countries of sub-Saharan Africa and in India.
This programme in Nottingham North aims to establish close working relationships across the different student management committees and their secondary school counterparts, to involve members of families and the wider communities in investigations that truly reflect the best principles of Citizen Science, and to celebrate findings and outcomes at the Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity.
From this sound and comprehensive network in Nottingham, further exchanges of investigations and eventually Scientists in Residence, children and teachers, will be promoted, both online and in person.

Planned Impact

We intend to devise a communications plan for this programme led by Ignite!'s Communication Executive, Megan Shore. Megan already leads on communications across a number of platforms, notably the Ignite Futures website and blog:

Our Facebook pages and twitter feeds are here:

Lab_13s use a wordpress account to post their news and experiments:

As the Lab_13 International network grows we are raising funds to create a web platform that is more interactive and can support children from Lab_13 committees in more sharing of experiences, investigations and experiments. We anticipate that this new platform will be created during the lifetime of this programme, (partial funds have been raised from the RSA and the bequest from our former Chair). We also intend to create the Lab_13 Cookbook over the course of the next 18 months- 2 years; a Compendium of Curiosity, this will document experiments and investigations by children and young people from Lab_13. We have secured a voluntary commitment of five days from a friend of the programme to start the formatting of such a resource.

Key to the dissemination of resources, outputs and outcomes from the programme is the Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity and the associated media coverage that we expect to generate. There will be specific sharing events at both the 2018 and 2019 festivals.

At local and city wide level, a number of events will be scheduled throughout the programme, including Lab_13 Lectures, open evenings, Family Fun Days and Science Fairs. In October 2019, the network will be encouraged to participate in Fun Palaces weekend and the Nottingham Science Fair at the City Council offices.

Other networks - Rick Hall, Ignite! and the Festival of Science and Curiosity are members of:
RSA Fellowship and Creative Education Group
Winston Churchill Trust Fellowship Education Group
British Interactive Group (BIG)
UK Science Festivals Network
Education Working Group of European Citizen Science Association

We will take as many opportunities as possible to attend conferences of these networks (and especially where we can include and accompany children, teachers and scientists in residence).

In September 2017 Rick Hall attended the STFC/IoP Interact symposium and presented interim findings from the current STFC programme at Lab_13 Rosehill. We look forward to attending the next Interact event with hopefully an update from the programme of this application.


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Description Lab_13 is a space that is managed by children for their own science investigations. Supported by a Scientist in Residence the children investigate topics that matter to them, that may relate to the science curriculum or not.
The STFC award enabled Ignite! to explore alternative ways of delivering the objectives of Lab_13 and engaging scientists both from academia and industry. We were also able to create a wider network of Lab_13s across the schools of North Nottingham, an area of disadvantage and deprivation, and share knowledge and expertise. Schools came together at the annual Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity and notably at the Real Science in Schools Symposium which was held in pre-COVID times at Nottingham Council House, and where audiences included civic dignitaries and scientists.
The extension of the project also led to relationships with a city-based bio-medical innovation hub, BioCity, where the concept of Lab_13 was introduced to the 'spare' labs and communal space. Schools were invited in to BioCity and to pose their research questions in advance. In the Lab_13 at BioCity, the children spent a day working on their investigations and learning from research scientists from the tenant companies.
This arrangement has continued and is now a regular part of the BioCity calendar, and we include training for scientists based there around work with children and schools and support for enquiry-led investigations.
Exploitation Route Please note that the previous section did not accept the URL entered

The Curiosity Project is a model that can be applied anywhere
and Ignite! offers all its assets on a Creative Commons licence basis

We have also linked the Curiosity Project to the BSA CREST Awards
Sectors Education

Description The outcomes and impact of the project have informed the Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity We have also been able to extend the project to an industry partner, BioCity, in Nottingham. The Festival has included the Curiosity Project as a major strand of education and schools engagement. BioCity now have a programme called Lab_13 BioCity where schools take over one of their lab spaces for the own investigations, supported by Scientists from the tenant companies.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural

Description Evidence to APPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Description Extending the international reach of Lab_13
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Description Presentation and discussion for ECSA and CSA
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Description RSA Catalyst Award
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Society of Arts 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2018 
End 04/2020
Description Eco-kits and environmental science 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Ignite! set up the partnerships with 20 schools in Nottingham, including two of the Lab_13 network, to take part in an ecology and environment science project - a Citizen Science project that included the use of air quality monitors, microscopes, collecting kits, quadrats and pooters The results and findings were displayed, discussed and shared at the Real Science in Schools Symposium as part of the Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity. !50 people attended the event and were delighted to see the quality of science investigations undertaken by primary school pupils. The proejct is ongoing and will be the subject of a further sharing event in mid summer.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Nottingham funded the purchase of the 20 eco-kits which Ignite! distributed to a network of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire primary schools As well as funding the kits, two University of Nottingham graduates on a Postdoc Industrial Placement for three months wrote a handbook for schools on how to make the most of the use of the kits. The kits were distributed in January 2019 which limited the amount of work that children could do outdoors and the range and diversity of the insects and other bio objects that they could study. However, the air quality monitors were deployed extensively across different locations across the 20 schools and we await the monitoring results. The schools gave excellent feedback about how they had and will continue to use the eco-kits. And we plan a further sharing event in June 2019
Impact Outputs 20 schools and over 600 pupils involved including 90 from Lab_13 network schools Attendance at the Real Science in Schools Symposium on 14 February 2019 - 150 attendees Outcomes - deeper appreciation of the importance of bio-diversity; deeper understanding of how air quality monitors work and why they are important.
Start Year 2018
Description Projects for plant pathology and ecology and environmental science 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Ignite! set up the relationships between the research team at University of Nottingham and the network of Lab_13 schools in Nottingham and co-ordinated the presentation of outcomes at the Real Science in Schools Symposium as part of the Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity on 14 February 2019. The project and relationship with University of Nottingham has continued after the period of the STFC grant. Ignite! engaged a post-graduate environmental scientist to engage pupils with environmental surveys using balloon and camera technology. This involved 60+ primary school pupils in a celebration event in July 2019 in the Nottingham Arboretum. The outcomes of the ecology strand to this project were also presented at the 2020 Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity when 120 pupils attended the Real Science in Schools Symposium at Nottingham City Council House. The interest in ecology, environmental biology and bio-diversity has also prompted a further 25 schools to sign up to the City Nature Challenge in April 2020.
Collaborator Contribution The Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Nottingham approached Ignite! to deliver some outreach and education activities in schools to engage primary phase pupils in experiments and activities that enhance their understanding of the pathogens that adhere to widely available fruit and vegetables. The experiments included the use of agar gel in petri dishes to establish that pathogens were indeed present in shop bought produce. The teams of school students then explored the differences between harmful and harmless pathogens and the DNA sequences that indicate the difference. The pupils were able to extract DNA from a range of produce and plant samples and using a portable DNA sequencer examine the difference readings that indicated the presence of pathogens or otherwise. The understandings of the schools students, supported by undergrads and researchers from the Plant Pathology University team were then displayed at the Real Science in Schools Symposium at Nottingham City Council House on 14 February 2019. This event is now a regular feature of the Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity and is an opportunity for local schools, including the Lab_13 schools to showcase the science investigations that they have undertaken in recent weeks, espeically those that have been instigated by the students themselves.
Impact Outputs: 80 pupils involved in practical experiments across three schools, including one school specialising in the education of children with autism. Outcomes: increased appreciation and understanding of important science concepts such as DNA sequencing and detection, awareness and impact of pathogens.
Start Year 2018
IP Reference  
Protection Protection not required
Year Protection Granted
Licensed No
Impact Ignite! has created and will update from time to time, the Lab_13 Handbook which describes how to set up a Lab_13 and The Lab_13 Cookbook, a compendium of experiments and investigations undertaken by Lab_13s All Ignite! IP including Handbooks and Compendia are freely available under a creative commons agreement
Description The Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity is a new company limited by guarantee and seeking charitable status with the aim and purpose of producing an annual festival for the City of Nottingham and the East Midlands region. The relationship with Lab_13 network is indirect, though the existence of the network and thr principles of operation of Lab_13 have materially influenced the ethos and philosophy of the Festival. The motivation across both programmes and projects is to raise the levels of curiosity in the children and families, in the citizenry of Nottingham. 
Year Established 2019 
Impact Over 7,000 active participants are reported from the recent 2019 Festival. Feedback evaluation and analysis is still in progress.
Description Wider engagement for Lab_13s 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The Real Science in Schools Symposium at Nottingham City Council House brought together schools, teachers, science practitioners and researchers, sponsors and industry specialists to debate and discover the authentic science investigations undertaken by school pupils, including those at Lab_13 schools.

Earlier that day one of the Lab_13 schools hosted a miniconference for the management teams of other Lab_13s, to discuss issues of running a dedicated Lab_13, the kinds of equipment in each lab and activities that take place.

The event was repeated in February 2020 as part of the Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity, and linked to talks by the Nottingham City Behaviour Change (Energy) officer and environmental biologist Mo Langmuir.

Rick Hall has also presented the outcomes of the project at the Citizen Science Association Conference, Raleigh North Carolina, US in March 2019, and at a seminar for the European Citizen Science Association in March 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020