Prince Edward and Sophie visit Whitechapel education centre

EAST End pupils visiting a state-of-the-art science laboratory were excited to share their experience with royal couple Prince Edward and Sophie today (November 25).

The Earl and Countess of Wessex are patrons of charity Centre of the Cell, an education project annexed onto Queen Mary university in Whitechapel.

They were there to see the futuristic interactive ‘pod’ and meet students using it as an addition to their science learning.

Unique in its function and inclusiveness, Centre of the Centre is a project which pairs schoolchildren with working scientists and lets them see first hand what goes on in the labs.

The royal couple were taken to the pod for a presentation before looking around.

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Pupil Shuma Begum, 12, from Mile End’s St Paul’s Way school, said: “I was really excited because we were sitting just a few seats away from them. I was quite nervous though.

“This place is good because it helps you with science.”

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Her schoolmate, Mariam Awadh, 11, said: “When you go to other museums they’re not as fun.”

Marium Tabassum, 13, from Whitechapel’s Mulberry School for Girls, said: “I’ve enjoyed coming here because it’s different. Science can sometimes be boring at school but this is interesting.”

Around 200 pupils a week come from across London to use the interactive computers, play learning games and meet the experts.

Class leader Vik Chechi said: “Tower Hamlets has a shockingly low intake of young people who are going onto higher education and studying sciences.

“They get to meet scientists here and it breaks the barriers.”

Liz Roache, another class leader, said: “This is the only working laboratory in the world with a public facility like this where anyone can come and learn. The idea is to enthuse and inspire.”

The scheme is mostly open to eight to 18-year-olds but its school holidays projects are very popular and the pod is open to the public on Thursday evenings.

The earl and countess’s charity, The Wessex Youth Trust, partnered up with Deutsche Bank to fund projects like Centre of the Cell.

The Whitechapel charity was one of 22 across the city to receive a grant.

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