THE BLOG

A Star in the Making

18/03/2014 11:40 GMT | Updated 18/05/2014 10:59 BST

I read with delight recently about a young man who had apparently created nuclear fusion in a classroom in Lancashire.

I've written several times about the benefits of allowing school pupils access to engaging and interesting science lessons and hands on experiences. This of course requires the ingenuity of inspiring and enthusiastic teaching staff who embrace the role of both mentor and cheerleader.

Jamie Edwards, a pupil at Penwortham Priory Academy, created the project from scratch with help from his school. And now the thirteen-year-old budding Brian Cox is being recognised as one of the youngest people in the world to carry out nuclear fusion.

Jamie, who started worked for months in a previously under-used school science laboratory, recreated a process known as 'inertial electrostatic confinement' in which a high voltage is put through a confined gas creating tiny pockets hotter than the surface of the Sun.

When interviewed by the BBC, Jamie described his project thus; "You see this purple ball of plasma - basically it's like a star in a jar," it brought back all the wonder and excitement of what discovery really means to youngsters and reminded me why I was so drawn to engineering myself when starting out on my career path.

These stories really hearten me and they fly in the face of all the ridiculous media reports we see regularly suggesting science cannot be done in school because of some notion of health and safety interference.

My own personal favourite quote though, came not from Jamie but his Headmaster, who as well as deserving a big pat on the back and an A+, raised a chuckle with this gem: "I was a bit stunned and I have to say a little nervous when Jamie suggested this but he reassured me he wouldn't blow the school up."

When young Jamie starts on his mini-hadron collider, then I'd like to volunteer to be his lab partner, now there's a young scientist who is obviously going places!

Read my regular Risk Assessment blog here also www.hse.gov.uk/news/judith-risk-assessment/index.htm

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