CHEMICALS giant BASF has unveiled a new education centre at its Bradford production site at Low Moor.

The new Kids’ Lab is a dedicated laboratory designed to raise awareness about science among 9-11 year-old school children as part of a drive to stimulate interest in science and engineering careers .

The new centre replaces the original Kids’ Lab in a former research and development block. The project has hosted around 4,000 children and nearly 400 teachers since 2000,who have joined in experiments demonstrating the value to every day life of the chemicals made by BASF.

Products made in Bradford are used in various processes in the paper, mining, oil and gas and water treatment sectors globally.

Site manager David Calder said he hoped the new Kids’ Lab would enable German-owned BASF to increase usage to 10,000 children.

He said: “As well as enhancing the reputation of our site, the Kids’ Lab brings together our volunteer employees with schools in our local community, which in turn helps us to not only promote science in everyday life, but also helps to start to develop relationships with children, their parents and wider families in the local community. ”

The new lab was officially opened by Bradford South MP Judith Cummins, who joined pupils from Hill Top Church of England Primary in Low Moor in an experiment with colour changing ‘worms’.

She said: “It is really good to see kids from local schools getting involved in science. This is the future.

“Stimulating interest in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, and Maths) is very important and worthwhile.”

The new laboratory enables youngsters to experience science with specially developed experiments.

Andrew Weatherall, BASF’s vice president operations for paper and water chemicals, said: “We know that the chemical industry struggles with how it is perceived. This affects our ability to encourage young people to choose science related subjects in schools and university.

“In the UK, BASF supports employees through the STEM Ambassadors programme to try change the perception and help the next generation consider science or engineering in either further education or through an apprenticeship.

“This site, along with the industry as a whole, is facing the issue of an ageing workforce and the sector needs to encourage more young people to pursue careers in chemicals and related engineering.”

The lab is run by 40 staff volunteers and has welcomed pupils from more than 130 schools. Nine dedicated experiments have been carried out in the lab with “Keep Cool” being the most recent.

Joanne Love, site communicator, said: “The Keep Cool experiment enables pupils to examine how insulation can effect temperature and energy can generate electricity. The special colour changing worms are always popular with the children.

“Next year, we look forward to introducing a Lego challenge and a new experiment focusing on identifying vitamin C in food and drinks. We hope pupils who visit have light bulb moment which will be the start of their future career in the chemical industry.”