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I have seen some strange uses for a Gratnells tray in my time but building an igloo has got to be up there.  Chris Bell, who works at Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newcastle, filmed himself building the igloo using a green F2 deep tray and submitted it to a competition we were running to promote science experiments with modern day slavery essay

abortion is wrong essay
Chris, host Marty and some dodgy bloke

‘I had already made a short film earlier on in the year when we had an unusually heavy fall of snow, which demonstrated the properties of snow,’ said Chris. ‘And purely by co-incidence, I had borrowed some Gratnells storage trays from school that we use in the science prep-rooms as a “block-making mould” to form snow bricks to make an igloo.’ Chris’s demonstration then went on to show how the properties of snow – of which its composition is 90% air – in the form of an igloo, make a great ‘soundproof’ space.

The film was submitted in competition in the ‘Best film by a Science Technician’ sector and won. Check it out below.

Any other uses for a Gratnells tray?

The best of the best science technicians in the country

Overall winner Tracey Padgham accepts her award from professor Kathy Sykes

It was great to finally meet the three winners of our first Gratnells Science Technician of the Year award. Tracey Padgham of Cavendish School in Eastbourne, Liz Carter of Warwick School and Brenda Davies from Sandhurst School in Warwickshire all made it down to central London for our special ceremony. We teamed up with Katie Walsh, Jonathan Sanderson and the nice people from Planet SCICAST to eat cake, hand out awards for some excellent films explaining science experiments and celebrate our winners. We were lucky enough to convince Professor Kathy Sykes, who is Professor of Sciences and Society at the University of Bristol, has also been a presenter for the BBC on such series as: Tomorrow’s World, and Rough Science, to hand out our award. Kathy also squeezed in enough time to have lunch with us before hand. I was nervous as usual as I have to give out an award and she soothed my nerves with a chilled glass of white wine. The Royal Institution was a fitting venue and the large stern statue of Michael Faraday himself made an excellent backdrop for some photos.

The Gratnells team along with all the winners and their sponsors

Thanks to all involved especially our judges Chris Peel from CLEAPSS and Simon Quinell from the Science Learning Centre HQ in York and Andy Piggott, the UK’s finest Science Education Consultant .

99 red balloons go by!

Technicians conference a huge success.


David in front of our pop-up stand

The Science Learning Centre (SLC) at York University along with the Association for Science Education  (ASE) put on great science technicians conference at the beginning of July. Run over two days the conference brought technicians from all over the country to attend a range of lectures. Gratnells got a good spot in the main hall and our Gratstack® promotion proved a hit, with David Moore our rep swamped with catalogue requests.

ASE journal highlights problems of poor prep-room design

The Association for Science Education (ASE) has picked up on our special report into prep-room design in the June 2010 edition of their Education in Science magazine. The Gratnells report was aimed at reducing the number of poorly designed and equipped prep-rooms specified by architects who have little or no experience in the area.

Industrial style shelving
We highlighted a case of an Academy in West London (which shall remain nameless) which was given simple industrial style shelving into which thousands of pounds of science equipment could not fit. The pictures here tell a thousand words.
Total disorganisation.

Gratnells was brought in to sort out the mess and now the school are happy. To find out more please download the report off our site and join our campaign against bad science storage.

Education in Science is a bi-monthly publication from the ASE and an excellent read for anyone connected to science teaching in the UK.

Gratnells sponsored TechnoBotts team in final countdown to Singapore

Two robots belonging to the Gratnells-sponsored TechnoBotts team of young scientists are heading off to Singapore packed in our trays on June 18th.

‘John’ and ‘Lewis’, designed especially for the competition, will be battling it out  in RobotCup 2010.

The event is being held between 19-25 June at the Suntect International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Singapore where TechnoBotts – a team of three students aged 13 –16 years old from Cambridgeshire – are entered in the Soccer Challenge (Lightweight League, Soccer A) group. Teams from around 30 countries from as far away as Brazil, China, Japan as well as USA and Europe will compete at the event.

The soccer challenge competition is for youths to design, program and strategize autonomous soccer-playing robots which will use ‘colour recognition’ to score goals in each of their matches.

‘It is vitally important that our two robots arrive in Singapore safe and sound,’ said team coach Catherine Wightwick. ‘That’s why we are delighted to be able to use the robust Gratnells trays to transport our precious cargo. The Extra Deep trays not only accommodate each of the robots perfectly, but they also fit within hand-luggage size.’

We wish TechnoBotts well in their up-coming challenge. Details of the event can be viewed at www.robocup2010

Have you ever used Gratnells trays to transport something important – if so, we’d like to hear from you.

The boys getting ready

Colour Swatch – the most difficult print project in the world?

One of the most common questions we get is ‘Can you describe what your green tray looks like. How green is it?’ Answering a question like that on the phone is nigh on impossible. It’s sort of grass green but that depends on which grass you have in your garden. The web gives a good approximation but print a sheet from a standard colour laser and it is never quite right. It was time to develop an accurate colour swatch of all our tray colours. Nice idea, but I can assure you that is easier said than done. It was the 24 carat nightmare. The trays needed to be matched to CMYK charts and RAL charts and HEX charts and any other charts those clever print people have invented. It took months. We needed wet copies and dry copies and spot varnishes and bleeds and fades and cuts and rivets .. it just went on. However, at last it’s finished and we have beautiful colour swatches for all. They are free so please ask for one. Just don’t throw it away. I’ve sweated blood over those. They should be lovingly placed on your desk and stroked once an hour…because they’re worth it.

Free for all

Four day week for British Schools?

Imagine waking up on Monday morning and not packing the kids off to school. As a cost saving measure a rural community in the American state of Georgia has extended the weekend an extra day. School gates remain locked on the first day of the week at Peach County where students attend school just four days a week, a cost-saving tactic gaining popularity among cash-strapped districts struggling to make ends meet. The 4,000-student district started shaving a day off its weekly school calendar last year to help fill a £600,000 million budget shortfall. As Cameron and Clegg prepare to wield the axe, is this a step too far for the UK? View article here.

Forty winks and a burger for KM?

We were glad to welcome KM Furniture and their delivery lorry today when they popped into the Wickes store opposite the Gratnells Harlow factory. After what must have been an exhausting morning delivering their popular chairs to the local schools, a break was obviously required. The driver looked very relaxed when we found him and we hope he had enough energy to get back to KM HQ in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.
If you are passing by don’t feel you have to use the local burger van – coffee and croissants are always available here at the home of trays.

Gratnells heads for the dictionary

Gratnells has found a place in the English language…well, nearly. According to research we’ve conducted, many school teachers when cleaning their classrooms or science areas say that they are ‘Gratnelling’ rather than tidying up. Apparently, ‘Gratnelling’ refers to the whole process of ensuring things are stored away properly, in their rightful place. Have you done your ‘Gratnelling’ today?