HEY Children’s University and Reckitt bring science to life for next generation

Pupils from Mersey Primary Academy were given a unique insight into the world of science thanks to world-leading health, hygiene and nutrition business Reckitt.

The company’s first ever Festival of Science was held to inspire the next generation and future talent, as we teamed up with Reckitt to bring science to life for 30 youngsters at the company’s £105m Science and Innovation Centre.

Wearing miniature laboratory coats, the children completed activities at Reckitt’s Hull Campus, including recycling and placing rubbish in the correct bins, identifying different fragrances in smelling booths, and chromatography, which saw pupils identify various chemical elements using water.

They were also challenged to develop a new product or change an element of an existing Reckitt product, with their ideas including a Vanish bath bomb, new flavours of Nurofen for children and alternatives to Reckitt’s Air Wick and Dettol products.

The winning duo, Violet Birjoo and Amelia Dockerty, both 10, chosen by Reckitt’s Global Research and Development (R&D) Leadership Team and product experts, designed a “magic medicine lolly” to encourage children who don’t like taking medicine to do so. The school will also benefit from £3,000 from The Sir James Reckitt Charity to create a science club and support other activities.

The Festival of Science was funded by a substantial donation from The Sir James Reckitt Charity, which was founded in 1921 by Quaker and philanthropist Sir James using shares in Reckitt & Sons Ltd.

Our Chief Executive Officer Rose James said: “Coming to Reckitt is an incredible opportunity for these children. As soon as they walked onto the site they were blown away by the size of it and asked lots of questions.

“They may never have thought about a career in science and experiences like this can change their whole future. It’s about igniting dreams and putting fire in their bellies.

“I’d encourage businesses to open their doors to primary school children because aspirations are born early in life.

“When children reach secondary school they’ve often discounted some potential career options and it’s very hard to change their minds at that stage. At primary school age they’re open to so many things, they want to learn and they’re like sponges.

“The Sir James Reckitt Charity is continuing Sir James’ legacy and inspiring the next generation and I’m confident some of these children will work at Reckitt in the future.”

Reckitt has recently become a Platinum Partner of our charity, funded through the donation from The Sir James Reckitt Charity related to the Festival of Science, and we’re delighted to welcome them on board.

The sponsorship will include covering the cost of an overnight experience for local primary school children, known as “Kip on a Ship”.

The children will sleep onboard HMS Belfast, which is docked opposite the Tower of London on the Thames in London. The trip will also include visiting the West End and various historical sites, broadening the children’s horizons and opening their eyes to new experiences outside of Hull.

For many children involved, it will be the first time they’ve been on a train or left the city.

Dr Bruce Charlesworth, Chief Medical Officer and Hull Campus Lead at Reckitt, said: “Mersey Primary Academy is a local school, which fits with Sir James Reckitt’s ethos of supporting local people.

“It’s about enabling the children to have experiences like the Festival of Science and listening to what they’ve got to say.

“The children had some fantastic ideas and I was incredibly impressed. I love the unfiltered thinking that children have at this age. They have a really good knowledge of what we do and they challenged us on what we could do in the future.

“It’s really clear there is some real talent and strength of character here and you can tell who the budding scientists, engineers and artists of the future are.”

All the children were presented with a Sir James Reckitt Scientist of the Future medal and a goody bag containing science stationery, puzzles and a book entitled The Fabulous and Fun World of Chemistry, written by Reckitt’s Chief R&D Officer Dr Angela Naef.

Dr Naef, her team and Reckitt product experts met the Mersey Primary Academy pupils to discuss their ideas, choosing Violet and Amelia as the winners.

Violet said: “Some younger children don’t like taking medicine. We linked our product with Lemsip and came up with some new flavours, such as citrus and cherry, as children like different options.

“We put Braille on the side for people who are visually impaired. I feel exhilarated to have won.”

Amelia said: “I really enjoyed working on our product and the day has been amazing. I’ve always wanted to come to Reckitt because my Mum used to work here.”

Shane Davy, Class Teacher at Mersey Primary Academy, said: “This visit has been extremely valuable for the children and they said it has been their best trip ever. They’ve learnt so much and it’s wonderful for them to take part in so many different activities.

“Seeing a workplace in real life, rather than just talking about it, is vital to develop their aspirations and hopes for the future.”

The Festival of Science also saw students from Hull’s Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) take part in challenges and present their ideas to Reckitt’s Global Research and Development (R&D) Leadership Team.

The students were also presented with a £3,000 cheque to further support the UTC’s employability activities.

The Festival of Science was part of Reckitt’s inaugural Science Inside Symposium, a two-day broader programme of activities which recognised scientific talent across the company and showcased its brands and products through posters and presentations. The symposium brought Reckitt’s work to life and is set to become an annual event.