University's SpiderLab opens unique Spider School at Derbyshire primary

   
   
Spider School PR
20 Jun 2017 09:00:00.000

PA136/17

Children at a Derbyshire primary school will be the first in the UK to go to ‘Spider School’ when the University of Nottingham’s SpiderLab goes on the road next week. 

Spider School is the idea of SpiderLab scientist, Dr Sara Goodacre, who will be launching the first lesson at Draycott Community Primary School on Tuesday 27th June 2017. As part of the project, London Zoo has invited the Year 5 children taking part to exhibit their own work from Spider School at a special exhibition and to see for themselves a collection of spiders from all over the world. 

The SpiderLab is part of the University of Nottingham’s School of Life Sciences. It is home to world-leading research on a range of different biological problems using spiders as model systems. Current projects include using spiders as a way to control pest insects in farmers’ fields, and working with chemists to making synthetic versions of spider silk in the laboratory.

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Beating arachnaphobia

Dr Goodacre said: “We’re really excited to be launching the first ever Spider School at Draycott Primary next week. We’ve got lots of fascinating experiments lined up and the children can study a variety of spiders from the tiny money spider to our impressive tarantula. We’ll be testing the strength of the incredible phenomenon that is spider silk and using 3D printing to print different types of spider webs. The spider activities we’ve got planned will boost the children’s knowledge of physics, geography, art and geometry and we think that if any of them are scared of spiders now, they won’t be after Spider School!”

Head Teacher of Draycott Community Primary, Claire Evans, said: “The physical setting of our school offers many varied opportunities to go spider-hunting. We have a dedicated conservation area and many hiding places for spiders in our Victorian building. I know the children will have fun searching. This is a fantastic opportunity for our children to develop their scientific and investigative skills in partnership with staff and students from the University. We have many ideas linking spiders into our curriculum and this will be a great learning adventure for us all.”

Spider School curriculum

The Spider School children will be exploring many questions about spider webs – What is spider silk? How strong is it? How do spider webs vary and what are they for? And which spiders live in different parts of the world? They will also be hunting for spiders around the school grounds and buildings to build up a picture of the number of different species, habitats and behaviours.

The activities and findings from the first ever Spider School will be presented in a multi-disciplinary ‘Spider School Showcase’ – a University-style research conference and exhibition where the children will describe their work to their friends, teachers, STEM partner representatives and other invited guests from the local community. 

It is hoped that Spider School can be extended in the longer term to other primary schools in the East Midlands, either through SpiderLab visits or through the cascading of activities and data generated by the project throughout the UK. 

The Spider School project has been funded by the Royal Society and aims to introduce children from nursery through to Year 6 to scientific investigation and inspire them to become citizen scientists.  

— Ends —

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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the top one per cent in the world. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

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Story credits

More information is available from Kelly Vere via email kelly.vere@nottingham.ac.uk 
EmmaRayner2

Emma Rayner - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.rayner@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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