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A star in the making

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

Jamie described his project thus; "You see this purple ball of plasma - basically it's like a star in a jar," - not only a gifted scientist but able to communicate what he’s doing in everyday language – the boy’s a genius!

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 star rating goes to his Headmaster though, who 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." Well done Headmaster! You’re an exemplar to your peers for letting this young man do his stuff.

When young Jamie starts on his mini-hadron collider, I’d like to volunteer to be his lab partner but I suspect there’s a long queue already forming who want to work with this extraordinary young man!

2014-02-10