Cambridge University professor opens new £3.9million science laboratories to inspire next generation

PUBLISHED: 07:45 27 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:38 27 March 2019

Dame Athene Donald Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge, opening the new science block named in her honour at Churchill Academy. Also pictured are head teacher Chris Hildrew, 6th form president Libby Scott and pupils Freya Hatherell and Poly Jones who suggested naming the building after Dame Athene Donald.   

Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Dame Athene Donald Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge, opening the new science block named in her honour at Churchill Academy. Also pictured are head teacher Chris Hildrew, 6th form president Libby Scott and pupils Freya Hatherell and Poly Jones who suggested naming the building after Dame Athene Donald. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

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A highly-respected physicist visited a secondary school to open its new multi-million-pound science block, 'delivering a wonderfully positive message to students and staff'.

Dame Athene Donald Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge, opening the new science block named in her honour at Churchill Academy. Also pictured are head teacher Chris Hildrew, 6th form president Libby Scott and pupils Freya Hatherell and Poly Jones who suggested naming the building after Dame Athene Donald.   

Picture: MARK ATHERTONDame Athene Donald Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge, opening the new science block named in her honour at Churchill Academy. Also pictured are head teacher Chris Hildrew, 6th form president Libby Scott and pupils Freya Hatherell and Poly Jones who suggested naming the building after Dame Athene Donald. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Churchill Academy and Sixth Form officially unveiled its £3.9million Dame Athene Donald Building on March 19, with the Cambridge University professor on hand to cut the ribbon.

The science and technology facility, funded by a Government grant, features high-quality laboratories and classrooms.

Professor Donald was chosen for the building’s moniker after pupils were set a project of researching female scientists and proposing one to name the building after.

The award-winning physicist won the vote ahead of the likes of Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin thanks to her pioneering research and work to boost opportunities in science for women.

Headteacher Chris Hildrew said it was ‘an extremely proud day for Churchill Academy’.

He said: “Not only officially opening the building, but having such an inspiring and passionate speaker who was able to deliver such a wonderfully positive message to our students, staff, and the wider Churchill community.”

The development was part of the school’s project to phase out its outdated buildings which have been in use for more than 60 years.

The unveiling of the science block follows the opening of a £1.3million business and computing building in 2017 – as Churchill vies to give its pupils access to top-class facilities.

The demolition of the Tudor block, which is one of Churchill’s original buildings and accommodated tens of thousands of students over the years, is nearing completion and staff were this week given a final look around the building before it is turned into rubble.

When the project was announced, Professor Donald said she was ‘deeply honoured’ to learn the school named the ‘wonderful’ building after her.

She added: “What a lovely idea to set students such a project, so more female scientists of note become familiar to them. I wish the school all the very best with the building project and, of course, I hope having new labs inspires a new generation of boys and girls.”

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