Students at Royal School for the Deaf Derby are now in their element after a chemistry company funded a giant poster of the periodic table to help embed core knowledge.

Science company Lubrizol, whose UK Centre of Excellence is based at Hazelwood near Belper, stepped in to fund a large 16ft by 6ft periodic table chart to benefit pupils studying at the school on Ashbourne Road.

It had been requested by head teacher Paul Burrows to help embed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) into pupils’ learning in a highly visual way that would be easily seen when students were walking past.

Diana Whitmill, Marko Deksnis, Paul Burrows and Claire Hollingshurst with the periodic table

The periodic table has been brought to the school ahead of the launch of its first ever GCSE combined science cohort in September.

Lubrizol, which employs around 300 people at its Hazelwood HQ in a variety of departments including engineering and science, agreed to fund the poster, which was designed in-house by the company’s creative teams.

Claire Hollingshurst, Lubrizol’s quality systems and business site support manager, was at School for the Deaf (RSDD) to officially unveil the giant periodic table, for which she was thanked in British Sign Language by 14-year-old pupil Marko Deksnis.

Claire said that creating the poster was all part of the company’s ethos in inspiring STEM learning amongst schools, with the aim of encouraging the next generation of scientists.

Claire, who graduated in chemistry from The University of York, said: “It was a pleasure to create this giant periodic table for the benefit of Royal School for the Deaf Derby. Learning the chemical elements is a vital building block for understanding this fascinating subject, that underpins so much of our modern world in ways that few of us even realise.

“I hope that by putting this periodic table on the wall at Royal School for the Deaf Derby it will help with students’ learning in a fun way. It was wonderful to be shown round the school, meet students and staff, and find out how impactful our donation of a large periodic table has already been on students’ learning. I hope it will prove useful for many years to come.”

Diana Whitmill, science teacher at Royal School for the Deaf Derby, said the periodic table was a very helpful learning aid for students.

She said: “Visual stimulation is vital for our students because that is the means by which they learn. They need access to visual stimulation and it’s really important that this periodic table is big, and beautiful as well. It’s fantastic for them. The periodic table is in a public area of the school and right next to the science room. It means the students are stimulated to ask questions in lessons, and it helps them make connections. I’m noticing that when we cover this topic.

“Deaf students often don’t have opportunities for incidental learning – they don’t learn from the radio being on in the car, for example. It makes abstract concepts sometimes harder for them which is why this periodic table really does make a difference.”

Royal School for the Deaf Derby head teacher Paul Burrows, who is also a physics teacher, said: “We are very grateful to Lubrizol for funding our giant periodic table. It has already gone down very well with students and as well as being important for learning it really brightens up what was previously a large, bare wall.

“It’s very important to us that our students get the best STEM education and this periodic table will be a vital part of their learning. We are launching a GCSE in combined science in September as part of a planned expansion of our GCSE curriculum here at RSDD and I know how important this periodic table will be in helping embed the subject amongst our students. Derby is known for its high-quality manufacturing base, and supporting our students with STEM subjects is crucial in improving their employability within Derby and Derbyshire.”

This story was written and shared on behalf of Lubrizol by Lucy Stephens. Can we share your news and get you in the headlines too? Find out how we can help by getting in touch.