In June 2017, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock officially opened Bedford Modern School’s (BMS) state-of-the-art science centre at an event attended by staff, students and special guests.
Following an investment of more than £9m, the new science centre includes 17 laboratories; three in each subject for specialist use and eight multipurpose laboratories together with adjacent preparation space. A separate floor is devoted to each discipline: biology, chemistry and physics and a central learning atrium provides a flexible teaching and display area.
The three specialist labs on each floor are primarily aimed at sixth form teaching, although based on the universal layout they have subtle differences which take into account the nature of the subject. The remaining eight laboratories are designed to be multi-purpose and are identical in all respects.
The main atrium is fitted with movable seating and tables to facilitate all types of non-practical work. The method of display is a 3×3 video wall which can handle multiple inputs. It is managed from a touchscreen device and has the option to broadcast via a camera in the laboratories; useful for demonstrating intricate practical work such as a dissection.
Flexibility is key and each laboratory is built on the model of five, fixed service towers around which there are movable tables, allowing teachers to configure the classroom as they wish or as befits the lesson activity. At the front of each laboratory is an interactive projector which has the same capability as an interactive whiteboard and can handle multiple inputs, offering split screen projection. Each unit is also connected to Apple TV which allows easy management of apps including YouTube and BBC iPlayer. Teachers can connect via a hardwire USB 3.0 port or wirelessly so that they can be mobile within the classroom. There is also a whiteboard wall in each lab.
The ample storage and preparation space is located at one end of the building meaning technicians can transport equipment through interconnecting doors between the labs during breaks. During lesson time the corridors are used and this means that there is no potential for collision between a stacked trolley and a student.
The building offers potential to be a learning tool in itself. The kinetic flooring in the entrance is linked to a monitor which displays how much energy has been converted over a period of time. In the atrium there is a Foucault pendulum and on the first floor an interactive periodic table display has been installed. These fantastic additions help bring science to life and have been donated by parents, the BMS Parents’ Association and the school’s alumni association; the Old Bedford Modernians (OBM) Club.
Biology, chemistry, physics and psychology are popular subjects at BMS and make up a third of the subject choices in the Sixth Form. Many students go on to study a science-related course at university. The science centre is by far the most significant capital investment in the school’s history and is an exceptional teaching and learning environment which will, together with the efforts of the excellent teaching staff, undoubtedly inspire countless young scientists for many years to come.