Representatives from the Institute’s Compton Laboratory visited The Downs School in Compton last week to donate a couple of new microscopes which will aid pupils at the school with their science practical classes. In addition to the microscopes, the Institute also donated two specially designed digital cameras to capture what the students will see when using the microscopes. As the secondary school is federated with Compton Primary School, both educational facilities will benefit.
Masterminding the microscope scheme on behalf of the Institute was Compton Laboratory’s Lorraine Smith. “When I took over the position of Avian Viral Diseases Programme Laboratory Manager, one of the things I took charge of was the vast amount of scientific equipment that had been left behind by groups who had vacated the Compton site over the years,” explains Lorraine. “Amongst this equipment were a number of microscopes which were very old and no longer worked and were destined for the skip.
“When I spoke to Noel Fuller of Fullerscope Services Ltd earlier this year I asked him if there was any way that we could recycle the old microscopes for good causes, or for donation to schools. He told me of a scheme that he had been involved with, whereby he could take the microscopes, clean and service them and send them overseas to Namibia. Then, in return for our donation, he could provide brand new microscopes for the school of our choice on our behalf.”
During outreach activities at The Downs School, Compton’s scientists had noticed how enthusiastic the children were when given the opportunity to look at small animals and insects through the Institute’s microscopes. So when the opportunity arose to exchange old microscopes for new through Noel Fuller’s arrangement, the Downs School was an obvious recipient. As a result of the donation a great many more pupils will get to experience the use of good quality microscopes at both primary and secondary school level.
The presentation was made on Wednesday 3 December by representatives from the Institute to pupils and teachers at the Downs School, including the school’s biology teacher, Steve Garton, "Staff from The Pirbright Institute have been a great source of support and inspiration to students and staff in The Downs School's Science Department over a number of years - we are lucky to have had a major research institution with such helpful and accommodating professional scientists working in close proximity to the school and prepared to give up their time.
“The gift of these fabulous new microscopes provides another major asset for the department; microscope work is a fundamental activity for students at all levels and being able to offer new and exciting capabilities to A level students will further improve our provision."