Solardome installs UK’s first rooftop geodesic dome science lab

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A-Level students at a Hertfordshire girls’ school will soon have the opportunity to study and conduct research in one of the most unusual science classrooms in the UK – and we are delighted to have helped make it happen. Here’s the story…

Watford Grammar School for Girls wanted to create an extension to its existing facilities. After exploring their options, they decided a SOLARDOME® PRO geodesic dome would “bring science alive” and provide an inspirational space to nurture a new generation of female scientists.

The benefit of buying British

SOLARDOME PRO 7.2M Watford opening ceremony_Students_webAfter extensive research into possible suppliers – including several in the US, like Brighton Roofing Company  – the school decided on Solardome as a reputable choice that they could trust to understand and work with UK regulations. We were also the only manufacturer that could design a habitable, temperature-controlled space with added ‘wow’ factor. Fitted with two doorways and an electric source air pump, the dome can be heated and cooled, making it usable all year round.

The first of its kind

Mark Gregory, Director and Chartered Surveyor for the school, oversaw the design and build, and complimented the Solardome team for their flexibility through a project that changed specification several times before the project began. He described the school’s dome as “bespoke, and nobody else in the UK provides anything quite like it.”

Funded by The Wolfson Foundation, The Lawton Trust, The Women of Vision Trust and The Watford Grammar Schools Foundation, the dome will be a fully equipped multi-research facility, used primarily to extend the learning of A-Level Science students.

Built on the roof of the science building, its innovative design is set to benefit all of the students at the school – whether they study science or not. As Headmistress Dame Helen Hyde DBE says:

“Within the science department at Watford Girls we have a wealth of expertise in carrying out and publishing scientific research. This science dome will allow our best science students to apply for a chance to investigate their own ideas, to develop and test hypotheses and to improve their knowledge and experience.

“Although the research carried out inside the science dome will of course have a science focus, we see the existence of the dome as an addition to enrich the whole curriculum. It opens access to the higher levels of academic study and will motivate all our students to think beyond the stipulations of an advanced level syllabus,” she added.

We’re as proud of the installation as the school are and hope that it inspires other schools to explore geodesic domes as an exciting alternative to traditional classrooms. Science writer and TV personality Professor Lord Winston officially opened the dome at a special celebration event on 1st October.

Professor Winston commented after the event “It’s a real science lab of the future, isn’t it? I think it’s superb. Hands-on, practical work is crucial in every aspect of education, but particularly when you’re studying science; it allows you to really embed whatever it is you’re learning. Having an inspiring space like this in which to carry out experiments and do practical research is only going to engage students even more and no doubt it will inspire staff, too. I know I’m very much looking forward to coming back to Watford Grammar and doing some experiments with the students in this new science dome.”

Read the full story on our case studies page

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