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Summer snow makes science cool

While the nation basked in searing temperatures and forecasters reported the hottest July on record, one group of pupils decided to cool off - by making their own snow.

Children from Tower Hamlets and Hackney, east London, used sodium polyacrylate - which can hold up to 300 times its volume in water and is used in nappies - to create fine snowflakes during a science workshop, part of a three-year programme, organised by Gatsby Charitable Foundation, to raise standards of science in schools.

At its launch Sir Mike Tomlinson, charity trustee and government education adviser, said: "We have a shortage of scientists in the UK and university science faculties are struggling to recruit students demotivated by science lessons at school.

"By capturing pupils' imaginations and improving their results, the programme helps every child become sufficiently literate and encourages children to pursue careers in science."

More than 2,000 children took part in the scheme, which also included projects in which pupils became crime scene investigators.

The number of pupils who gained a level 5 in science at key stage 3 after taking part in the programme rose by 5 per cent between 2003 and 2005. The national increase was 2 per cent.

Pupils and teachers celebrated the success of the scheme at a science conference in London earlier last month.

Alan Wood, chief executive of the Learning Trust, in Hackney, said: "Bored children don't learn science, attentive ones do.

"This programme of teaching, training and innovative tools has made a real difference to teachers' and pupils' enjoyment and achievement in science."

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