More than 100 pupils gathered to celebrate science at the South Oxfordshire Science Fair Grand Final.

It was held on Wednesday at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Visitor Centre at Harwell, offered free of charge for the event.

The pupils involved were from the Vale Academy Trust and the South Oxfordshire Ogden Trust Partnership.

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A student from Larkmead School in Abingdon said “I really enjoyed teaching the younger students new things – I liked the look of ‘wow’ on their faces!” Another commented: “I feel like it really helped to grow my confidence with talking about science and made me realise I know a lot about the key words.”

The science fair enterprise began when The Vale Academy Trust put forward an exciting proposal to the Ogden Trust , which supports physics education, for a ‘Science Partnership’ involving 2,200 pupils across nine schools.


Since then, armed with four years of funding, training and resources, a range of activities have taken place, including the Science Fair Grand Final.

In recent months, primary pupils have been leading their own science investigations to answer science questions.

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Schools held individual science fairs to choose their winners in three age groups. The finalists from each school then took part in the Grand Final. More activities are being planned for the next academic year to ensure continuing access to a good quality, inspiring physics education.

During the morning, the children shared their exhibits with other children and the judges from the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and UKRI, displaying their enthusiasm, knowledge and real passion for science. A highlight for the primary pupils was spending time with pupils from KS3 from Larkmead School and King Alfred’s Academy. These secondary pupils had worked in their own time to devise demonstrations and hands on activities for the younger ones to enjoy. Ian Snell from Science Oxford ran a competition to build the slowest marble run. There were many wow moments – and not just from the pupils!


Secondary pupils from Fitzwaryn Special School also attended, talking to the children about their projects, providing help to anyone who needed it and delivering the all important biscuits!

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In the afternoon, Dr Neil Geddes, STFC Executive Director National Laboratories - Science and Technologies, presented medals and certificates to the first place winners and certificates for the highly commended exhibits.

Some of the winning questions included, ‘Which is the best biscuit to dunk in a cup of tea? and Do aerodynamics affect how far a car will travel?

Cat Boaz, STEM Specialist Teacher with the Vale Academy Trust and South Oxfordshire Ogden Trust Partnership Lead, said: "It was a delight to see so many future scientists, sharing their projects and passion with others. "Primary children were engaging in the science work of their peers across schools and secondary pupils were teachers and growing in their science confidence.

"This event significantly increased the science experience of not just the children who attended the final, but all of the children who worked on their projects in their schools.

"Teachers also undertook extra training on how to support children to follow their own ideas in science – not an easy task with 30 children in a class! Huge congratulations to everyone.”

The Vale Academy Trust has invested in building a “Phizz Lab” over the summer at Millbrook Primary School - a purpose-designed science lab where pupils from across the trust’s primary schools can immerse themselves in a wealth of science experiences.

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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