GALLERY: College's new £2.5million science centre is opened

PUBLISHED: 08:20 23 June 2014 | UPDATED: 08:20 23 June 2014

Opening of Ely College Science block, (l-r) Chairman of Govenors Ben Gibbs, Principal Catherine Jekinson-Dix, and H4H Fundraiser Duncan Slater, cutting the ribbon.

Opening of Ely College Science block, (l-r) Chairman of Govenors Ben Gibbs, Principal Catherine Jekinson-Dix, and H4H Fundraiser Duncan Slater, cutting the ribbon.

Archant

The ribbon was cut to officially open Ely College's new £2.5million science centre last Thursday.

Duncan Slater who, with a team of other injured servicemen and women, walked to the South Pole last year with Prince Harry, was on hand to do the honours.

Slater, together with staff, students and invited guests, enjoyed a tour of the building before interacting and chatting with students engaged in a range of classroom experiments, including rocket building, extracting DNA from bananas, and creating an iodine clock.

Ben Gibbs, chair of governors said: “The teaching of science in schools is all about inspiring young people through the wonders of the world around them, and engaging them in the idea that we have the ability to change that world for the better.

“Duncan is walking proof of the amazing ability of science to make what was previously impossible possible, but more than that, he is himself a truly inspiring role model for our students.”

Having served in the RAF for more than a decade, Duncan was in Afghanistan in July 2009 when an improvised explosive device blew up under his vehicle. The only unbroken part of his body was his right arm.

After a year of rehabilitation, medics decided that Duncan needed to have both legs amputated if he was to walk pain free again.

And yet three years later, he took part in one of the world’s most gruelling challenges, walking 335km over 16 days in temperatures as low as -35 degrees centigrade.

Addressing the students, Duncan said: “Last time I was here before the walk, I met a student who had overcome serious illness and was completely focused on working hard, doing well and making a difference.

“I’ll be honest with you and say I had him in mind as my inspiration whilst I was in the Antarctic. You all have what it takes to overcome challenges like mine.”

Ely College’s Science Centre, funded by the Education Funding Agency following a successful bid by the college in 2012, was completed in November last year, and has been a great success with students and teachers.

It is the first part of the college’s whole campus development plan, the next stage of which - a new ‘face’ for the College, including theatre, dining area, library and classrooms - is well underway and ready for completion in November 2014.

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