London’s only lab for children needs to raise £20 000 or risk closure

Children carry out lab research. Kids-only Lab_13 is at risk of shutting down. PHOTO | AMY COLES.

A founder of London’s only scientific lab for children is calling on Highbury West parents and businesses to help fund the project or risk its closure.

Lab_13, a fully equipped facility that allows children to design and carry out their own experiments, was originally funded by Islington Council.

Now it needs to raise £20,000 to keep running next year, one of its co-founders has claimed.

Amelia French, 52, of Plimsoll Road, has a child at Gillespie Primary School where the lab is based.

French was part of a team of parents who brought the lab to Islington in 2014.

She is now in charge of raising funds to keep it running.  

“The children have said they would be lost without the lab,” she said. “Parents have been helping to fundraise but we need to get businesses involved. That way we would be in a much stronger position.”

She added: “We have found that children are deeply interested in grasping deep questions. They are more engaged because they decide what they want to learn. For example, a five-year-old wanted to know why atoms are small.”

They have boundless enthusiasm so why not teach them?”

The Lab is part of a scheme by charity Ignite! to introduce innovative spaces where learning is driven by the children’s curiosity.

Physics teacher Carol Kenrick works part time as the project’s resident scientist.

She said: “Children are fundamentally inquisitive, and Lab_13 offers a positive channel for their curiosity. It is a place where their questions are valued and taken seriously.”

“Crucially, in Lab_13, children see themselves as scientists, thinkers and makers.”

Teachers, parents and students from the school held a sponsored jamboree in Clissold Park on Sunday. So far they have raised £1,950.

French hopes that with local support they can bring the project to more Islington schools in future.