Rusty romance steals the show
Its sub-plots include a mis-matched alliance with sulphur and an intervention from the Dark Priest of the Blast Furnace, before the relationship between iron and oxygen creates the perfect union to become steel.
Jon Wakefield and Dave Quick, teachers at Arnold Hill school, Nottinghamshire, have turned the story into a musical. Steel, which brings the elements alive, will be performed at London's Royal Opera House next month.
The show, funded by a pound;5,000 Arts Council grant, features more than 180 pupils from Arnold Hill and children from two local dance troupes, a nearby special school and five feeder primaries. It is based in the mountains of Kazakhstan and tells the story of iron's search for a suitable mate. The miserable metal initially dabbles with sulphur, with disastrous consequences, before falling in love with oxygen, to produce steel.
Tom Horton, 17, who plays the part of a miner, said: "It is an opportunity for younger years, in particular, to learn about the science behind our life in an easy and understandable way."
Mr Quick, a chemistry teacher, and Mr Wakefield, who teaches design technology, are behind previous musicals about sycamore seeds, salmonella and the creation of planet Earth, and say singing about science is a winner with children. Interest in the subject nationally has waned over the past 15 years and the number of young people taking physics A-levels fell by 21 per cent during the 1990s.
But at Arnold Hill, more than half the lower sixth now take science and Mr Quick said a study two years ago revealed that GCSE science results were a third higher among children who had taken part in an earlier stage show.
Steel will be staged at the Royal Opera House on April 10. For more information call Jon Wakefield or Dave Quick on 0115 9554804.