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.
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.
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