On Thursday 7 June, pupils at Wilberforce Primary tried their hand at being forensic scientists for the day. Working in a mobile laboratory with PhD students from University College London (UCL), the pupils used a variety of scientific techniques to determine whether a painting was an original or forgery.
The day was run by PhD students from UCL’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA). Using their ‘Mobile Lab’, the scientists introduced the primary pupils to UV lighting, a thermal imaging camera as well as a whole range of techniques for determining an object’s authenticity.
The visit, which was the first time the Mobile Lab had been taken to a school, sought to open up the world of science to pupils. By giving them a real hands-on approach to science, the PhD students tried to show the pupils the real-life applications of what they are learning in their science lessons. Alongside the activity, the students demonstrated to the pupils the wide variety of science careers open to them.
Thrilled with the success of the day, Mark Jackson, Science Lead and Year 3 teacher at Wilberforce Primary, said:
“Having the Mobile Heritage Lab visit Wilberforce Primary was a truly inspiring day for the pupils. The opportunity to work alongside scientists and use their equipment has filled the children with ambition and aspirations to explore science further. Bringing the world of science alive for pupils is a perfect example of how we deliver an Education with Character.”
Rose King, PhD student at UCL, expressed her admiration for the children. She said:
“The children were very inquisitive and asked lots of questions. They were very engaged and we were impressed with their scientific knowledge and skills. We look forward to working with Wilberforce children again.
“The children were genuinely a delight to be around. Their enthusiasm is infectious so hopefully some will follow us into scientific careers. That's just what we need!”
Year 3 pupil Audrey de los Santos said:
“It was amazing! Inside the lab we tested material but my favourite bit was when we used the UV lighting to check whether the painting had any hidden names or secrets on it.”
Year 5 pupil Raima Mardani said:
“It was so cool – literally! We got to use a thermal imaging camera and see how it uses heat, or not.”