BBC Terrific Scientific arrives at West Jesmond Primary School

“Mad science invitation 4”. Photograph: Martin Cron

About 150 schoolchildren from West Jesmond Primary School are taking part in the BBC Terrific Scientific campaign in a bid to discover their inner scientist.

Year five and six pupils are participating in the BBC Live Lessons and scientific investigations that cover key elements of the curricula across the UK.

Terrific Scientific is a new initiative from the BBC launched in an effort to inspire more pupils to go into science and prevent a potential skills shortage.

It comes at a time when fewer than 15% of 10-14 year olds long to become scientists, the BBC’s research revealed.

During the first phase, which runs from January to July 2017, pupils will take part in five scientific investigations and submit the analysed data to the Terrific Scientific website.

According to the BBC, it is “the biggest mass-participation scientific investigations that have ever happened in the UK”.

Tom Jones, assistant head for school improvement, told JesmondLocal how West Jesmond Primary School got involved: “I heard about it at the Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) conference where the Learning team presented and we got to try some experiments.

“We decided to take part as it is another way to promote science and engage children with working scientifically.”

Asked about the experience so far, Jones said: “There have been two live lessons and one experiment.

“In the first lesson, the children did an investigation to test who was a non-taster, taster or super taster by adding food dye to their tongues and then counting how many papillae they found.”

Jones thinks Terrific Scientific will enable children to “enjoy” science and “see it in a real-life context”.

Helen Folkes, Creative Director of BBC Learning, said: “Terrific Scientific is already helping children, parents and teachers to get excited about science.

“It’s great to see our young scientists already making an impact on the scientific world and with the help of our partners we have been able to show schoolchildren that their work and participation matters.”

As Terrific Scientific’s participants, schools become eligible for BBC’s Meet the Medalist incentive, which means a medal-winning athlete from Team GB or Paralympics GB might eventually pay a visit to the Jesmond school.

In 2016, West Jesmond Primary School was awarded the Gold Primary Science Quality Mark for the exceptional work in science.