Science education activities

Making Lava Lamps

Making Lava Lamps during Science Week
© The Francis Crick Institute

By working closely with schools and colleges in the Camden area we are developing education activities that offer insight into the world of science and encourage students to engage with the institute and its work. We pilot our activities with schools to ensure that they are practical, engaging, and useful. If you are a teacher in Camden and would like to register to take part in any of our pilots or activities, please email

Activities are designed to appeal to students in a range of age groups. Click on the titles below to find out more about the opportunities and resources available.

  1. Year 3 Discover Science Kit (Primary – current activity)

    Skeleton wearing a stethoscope

    Skeleton wearing a stethoscope

    The aim of this project is to provide Year 3 teachers with a well-supported set of science kit that complements the lower key-stage 2 science curriculum.  

    Developed in collaboration with local science teachers and The Royal Veterinary College, schools can borrow our kit which contains a range of equipment not normally available to primary school teachers, along with Teachers' notes and a linked school-trip to the Royal Veterinary College. Click here for further information. 


  2. Mini-Microscopists Competition - (Primary - current activity)

    The aims of the Mini-microscopists project are to give young children the chance to develop their enquiry and observation skills, and provide their teachers with an easy to use resource that supports a number of areas of the curriculum. 

    The Crick lends each school a set of 30 microscopes, along with supporting material on suggested activities. The microscopes stay in school for up to a week, allowing whole classes to spend time exploring their environment in a new way. The children are encouraged to make images of what they see, a selection of which are shown below.

    Clare Davy, the Crick's Education Officer, said: "We've had a wonderful response to the project, with over 4000 children aged 3-11 and their teachers from 18 schools using the microscopes over the past year. We thought that the pictures that the children made were fantastic - it was clear that using the microscopes had allowed them to investigate everyday objects in greater detail and learn about a whole range of different materials."









    The project came about as a result of a meeting between the Crick's Education Officer and a group of science lead teachers from Camden primary schools.

    The feedback from teachers who have overseen their pupils' involvement in the project has been extremely positive. Emma Sampson, a teacher at Torriano Junior School in Kentish Town, said: "It was fantastic! The children were amazed at the things they could see with such a small microscope." Phil McIntosh, a teacher at Richard Cobden School, commented "The microscopes were perfect for the children to experiment and learn with. I've had lots of teachers tell me they were great as they encouraged lots of questions from the children, whilst providing many opportunities for independence and self-guided learning."

    For further information contact


  3. Ask a Nobel scientist event (Secondary - current activity)

    The Francis Crick Institute has a proud association with Nobel Prize winners. It is named after one, run by another, and the Medical Research Council, one of our founding partners, has produced 29 of them in its 100-year history.

    Each year we host an 'Ask a Nobel Scientist' event, which gives sixth form students the opportunity to quiz some of the best scientific minds in the country on broad biomedical topics.

    AANS discussion

    Our panel of eminent scientists, including Nobel prize winner Sir Tim Hunt, answer questions posed by the young people, and challenge them to think about modern biomedical research and its effect on their lives.

    In 2015 we added a mini careers fair to the event. Feedback was very positive, with the majority of the students agreeing that it had increased their interest in studying STEM subjects and having a related career.

    Click here for more information.

    Watch a film of the 2013 Ask a Nobel Scientist event. 


  4. Camden Masterclass (Secondary - current activity)

    In collaboration with Camden Council school improvement service and The Royal Veterinary College we run biochemistry masterclasses for A-level students, allowing them to experience specialist laboratory equipment and facilities that may not be available at their school.

    Led by one of our scientists, students watch demonstrations, carry out their own investigative work and discuss the results at a group seminar.



  5. Workshops in the Discovery Zone (Secondary – current activity)

    From June 2015 we will be delivering interactive practical workshops in our Discovery Zone, at Regent High School. We aim to support teachers to cover the advanced topics on the A-level and BTEC specifications, and these workshops will extend the students' knowledge beyond the core curriculum and into the realms of current biomedical research.

    The development of the workshops was funded by a generous donation from the late Julian Lewis, scientist at LRI. By partnering up some of our scientists with local teachers we have created an experience that both addresses the needs of those delivering lessons for each of the exam boards, and showcases the relevance of this science to the Crick.

    Our first workshop is on Genetic Engineering and gives the students the chance to develop their practical skills and consider the wider ethical implications of this modern technology. For further information and (for Camden schools) to book click here.


  6. Visits to schools (Primary and Secondary – current activity)


    By visiting schools we hope to maximize the number of young people who get to meet us. We have delivered assemblies, class-workshops, demonstrations in the playground, drop-down day sessions, helped out at science-clubs and judged science competitions.  We work with classes from Year 1 to Year 12, and cover a broad range of science themes relating to work at the Crick. From bouncing giant furry toy microbes around with Key Stage 1, to taking PCR machines to sixth-form students, our activities allow the young people to meet with real scientists in the familiar setting of their own school.

    Visit to school

    One of our previous projects involved helping Edith Neville Primary School make a success of their first ever science week in 2012. Scientists and architects worked with staff to organise fun and practical science activities. The children learned how to make corn flour slime, how to make a balloon blow up by itself, and why lemons sink but limes will float in a tank of water. Parents who attended the science fair held at the end of the week were shown how to do some of these exciting activities at home.


    One of our key objectives is to regularly interact with every state school in the London borough of Camden. We are about half-way there! If you teach in Camden, or your children go to school in Camden, then get in touch. All our activities are free to Camden state schools, and we'd really like to hear what we can do to benefit your school.


  7. Careers fairs and guidance (Primary and Secondary – current activities)

    We are pleased to be assisting the local organizations running the Camden primary careers conference. Held at the British Library, the conference is a chance for Key Stage 2 pupils to get an insight into a range of careers. Crick staff enjoy attending this event and helping young people to explore Crick-related careers. Click for further information.

    The Crick also supports careers fairs aimed at secondary school children, in particular Camden's 14-19 fair at Westminster Kingsway College. And we have now introduced a mini careers fair to our annual Ask a Nobel Scientist event, where we showcase a range of Crick-related careers.

    AANS discussion


  8. Visits to our institutes (Secondary - Current activities)

    For many years our institutes in Mill Hill, Lincoln's Inn Fields and Clare Hall have hosted visits from young people interested in finding out more about the work done at these sites. From meeting with our scientists and listening to lectures on research, to taking part in hands-on activities, there have been a wide range of events put on.

    MH school 2015

    The Crick's visitors centre on Ossulton Street has hosted visits of young people who are keen to learn about the history behind the new institute, and more about how the building has been designed. Supporting the A-level Applied Science curriculum, the students are able to consider how the new building will influence its environment.


  9. Work experience (Secondary – current activity)

    All our founder institutes have long histories of taking on young people for work-experience. We fully understand the benefits of work-experience placements, both for the young person and the supervisor. Once our building is fully operational we plan to take on 50-100 students per year, across the ability spectrum, into a wide variety of Crick roles.

    Currently we are only able to offer a limited number of placements in positions related to the establishment of the building, e.g. engineering and communications, and we recruit directly for these through the schools that we are working with to develop our Science Education Programme.

    In the future our formal work experience placements will be organized through third parties such as Nuffield, Inspire and the Social Mobility Foundation - we cannot process direct approaches to Crick.


  10. Teaching laboratory design project (Secondary – past project)

    In 2012/13, students from Westminster Kingsway College were given a unique opportunity to propose designs for the Crick's teaching laboratory. The project formed part of the BTEC Level 3 Science 'Working in the Science Industry' module.

    More than 40 students aged between 16 and 18 worked alongside people from the Crick, architects and scientists to develop plans for the facility. Students picked up valuable skills, including an introduction to computer aided design software, and visited the Crick construction site to find out more about the institute.

    The project culminated in a 'Dragon's Den' style finale where the students pitched their ideas to staff at the Crick. The winning team proposed a bright and colourful interior with a formal area for focused group sessions and a separate, more relaxed space for individual study.

    The project was run in partnership with Flourish Healthcare.

     Read more about the project here.


  11. Science at the British Library (Secondary – previous activity)

    In 2013 we supported the British Library's Inspiring Science season through a series of lectures for A Level students.

    The lectures were designed to introduce sixth-formers to university-style lectures and give them an opportunity to hear eminent scientists talk with passion about their work. Topics included robotic engineering, climate change and cancer biology.

    Professor Kairbaan Hodivala-Dilke from the Barts Cancer Institute gave an introduction to the fascinating field of Angiogenesis. Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, is essential for tumour growth and cancer spread. Varying the characteristics of Angiogenesis is therefore a logical approach to cancer treatment.


  12. Science Snapper (downloadable activity)

    If you sneeze with your eyes open, will your eyeballs pop out? And why is it that sweetcorn comes out looking exactly the same as when you first ate it?

    Find out the answers to these questions and many more by downloading our new Science Snapper game here!

    Simply print and follow the instructions to fold up your very own snapper.



  • We are working locally with our closest schools to plan and pilot our education offer.
  • Local teachers and students will road-test our activities to ensure they are practical, engaging, and curriculum-linked.