Primary school children build their Science skills in the Building Bridges project

Date Published: 03.07.2024

Building Bridges supports primary school students' successful transition to secondary school by boosting their academic motivation and engagement.

Building Bridges pupils learn about artefacts at the Ashmolean Museum

Wadham College is working on this collaborative project with the Departments of Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Physics and Materials Science, Balliol College, Hertford College, Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum (OGBA) and the Ashmolean Museum, as well as other Higher Education and third sector providers.

Building Bridges' enrichment theme for 2023 was ‘Green Planet’ , which explored the incredible use of plants as food, sources of medicines, toxins, and energy.

Following on from this, the 2024 theme, ‘Into the Blue’ , allowed students to discover how light is used in both art and science and examine the origins and use of the colour blue by humans across cultures and through history to the present day. Bridge 7 of Into the Blue is designed to draw together prior learning from this scheme through a visit to Oxford. 

During their week in Oxford, students and their teachers met the 'Into the Blue researchers' at Wadham College. They also enjoyed the following sessions:

Capturing Light: the group discovered the work of Oxford Chemistry's Ritchie, Vallance and Cotterell groups and learned about how optical cavities are used to analyse gases in our lungs, water pollutants and aerosols. 

Colouring in Cells: in this session, the pupils learned about the work of Oxford Chemistry's Harry Anderson group on novel fluorescent tags, and how this can help us with super-resolution microscopy. 

Uncovering the Past: our visitors found out about the work of Dr Luciana Carvalho, Dr Victoria Kemp, and Dr Andrea Czermak, spanning Oxford Chemistry (McCullagh Group), the Ashmolean Museum, and the School of Archaeology. They explored the use of visible-induced luminescence of Egyptian Blue in understanding ancient artefacts as well as in modern forensics; determined the pigments used in William Henry Hunt's 'Peach and Grapes', 1845, using XRF data; considered how copper corrosion yields pigments and clues about the past; and found out about how fluorescence microscopy uncovers the diet of people from the past.

In 'The Treasure Trove', students and teachers spent time in the galleries of the Ashmolean Museum, visiting Ancient Egypt and Sudan, the Islamic Middle East, Pissarro and the Pre-Raphaelites - each gallery containing artefacts explored during Bridges 1-6, including the Great Bookcase, designed by the Victorian Architect and Designer, William Burges. A visit to Worcester College, formerly Gloucester College, allowed our visitors to learn more about Burges, whose design of the Chapel was finished in 1864.   

New for 2024-2026, 'Symmetry in Our World' investigates how patterns and symmetry underlie our natural world and its chemistry.

Our visiting students and teachers enjoyed lunch in one of the Building Bridges partnership colleges: Wadham, Worcester, Balliol and Hertford. 

Find out more about Building Bridges and how you can support this vital work.