Grants worth of over £73,000 in total have been awarded to 14 primary schools and 19 secondary schools across the UK, in the latest round of the Royal Society’s Partnership Grant Scheme.  The scheme awards UK schools and colleges up to £3000 for projects conducted in partnership with practising scientists and engineers. These projects centre on creative, pupil-led investigations for students aged between 5-18 and allow pupils and teachers to go beyond the curriculum, while engaging with cutting-edge research and accessing new equipment and skills.

Annie Cunningham, a Marine Education officer from Newcastle University, shows students from Hasting Hill Primary School how to identify different species of marine organism during the school’s recent Partnership Grant project, “Exploring ocean ecosystems and inspiring future marine biologists”.

Successful secondary school applicants in the latest round include Tudor Grange School, where pupils will carry out a project to design, test and eventually launch a recoverable capsule into space. The capsule will record its journey into space via an on-board camera and transmit a GPS signal allowing it to be tracked on its journey and recovered. Meanwhile, at Alcester Grammar School, pupils will be investigating the problem of hay fever and using molecular techniques to identify pollens, while monitoring allergenic pollen prevalent in the local area. They will then evaluate whether the speed and efficiency of the pollen forecast could be improved.

Primary schools awarded with grant funding include Newton Ferrers, whose project “The Plankton Year” will reveal to pupils a microscopic world of life living at the sunlit sea surface. The children will learn how plankton underpin the marine food chain and how over millions of years they created our oil and gas; shaped the landscape and helped create clouds in the sky and how they still create the oxygen in every second breath we take. The project will be conducted in partnership with Dr Richard Kirby, who also held an exhibit on plankton at the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition in 2011.

 Meanwhile, Long Crendon Primary School will be building a model railway track which will simulate some of the different landscapes and contours of the proposed HS2 rail link. Pupils will then use this railway track to investigate different fuel sources, while participating in the acquisition, construction and modification of engines with the help of their engineer partner. These engines will then compete in a final test.

A pupil from Bay House Secondary School shows their findings from a field identification activity, conducted as part of the school’s recent Partnership Grant project, “How cool is School - Eco Surveying our School Community”. The project enabled students to create a “living map” of the school grounds, by locating and identifying flora and fauna, using a variety of data collection methods, with equipment provided through grant funding.

The next round of applications for the Partnership Grants scheme will open on 3 September 2012 and close on 2 November 2012.

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