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New centre invites children into the amazing world of science

Centre of the Cell - a unique children’s science education centre - will officially open its doors for the first time today (Thursday 3 September). The centre will be unveiled by Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton.

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Centre of the Cell
Centre of the Cell

The Centre is the first in the world to be based within a working medical school research laboratory, at the Whitechapel campus of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, part of Queen Mary, University of London.

It will offer children and teenagers a fascinating insight into what scientists actually do and how their work influences real life, through a series of exciting interactive games.

The Centre is free to visit and can host 40,000 visitors each year. Centre of the Cell’s major funders include the Wellcome Trust, the London Development Agency, the Mercers’ Company and Queen Mary, University of London.

Centre of the Cell is a giant orange ‘pod’ suspended within the atrium of the RIBA award winning glass Blizard Building. Visitors will approach the pod via a colourful glass walkway and, as they enter, look down on the scientists working in the building’s vast subterranean laboratory.

Once inside, visitors gather around a central ‘nucleus’ for a powerful audiovisual display, projected around the walls of the pod, which introduces them to cells – the building blocks of life. The nucleus then opens to reveal interactive games; visitors can try their hand at virtual experiments, observe real body parts and diagnose disease using high-power microscopes. This combination of digital technologies and real-world science creates a science education experience not available in the classroom or anywhere else in the world.

All of the scientific content in Centre of the Cell is based on the cutting edge medical research conducted at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry. During every school session at the Centre, children will get to meet researchers based at the Medical School and ask questions about their work. More than 80 top scientists and researchers have contributed to the world class content of the Centre.

Professor Fran Balkwill is Director of Centre of the Cell and a leading cancer researcher in the School of Medicine and Dentistry. She says: “I am so thrilled that Centre of the Cell is now open. This is a unique way for kids to get engaged with science. There’s a lot to learn about science here and children will learn in a way that’s meaningful and fun.

“The aim of the Centre is to inspire young people to take an interest in science, to improve their knowledge of science and perhaps to lead them to becoming scientists themselves one day.”

The Centre is especially for children aged 9 to 16, the topics are linked to the Science National Curriculum at Key stages 2, 3 and 4, and cross-linked to Maths, English and Citizenship curricula.

The location of Centre of the Cell is pivotal to its mission. Tower Hamlets and its neighbouring boroughs are among the most deprived areas in the UK. The Centre aims to improve attainment, raise children’s aspirations, increase the number of young people studying science and healthcare and contribute to the regeneration of east London.

Local children and young people have been central to the design and development of the Centre with more than 8,000 pupils from schools in Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham contributing to every step of the design and content.

Hasib Hikmat is Head of Science at Bow Boys School and a Trustee of Centre of the Cell. He says: “It’s so exciting to be involved in Centre of the Cell and having the Centre on our doorstep is a real bonus. Children’s responses to the Centre have been wonderful – everyone has come out excited and keen to learn more about science.”

To book a visit to the Centre go to

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