New rooftop science research lab inspires female scientists to aim higher

A-Level students at a Hertfordshire girls’ school will soon have the opportunity to study and conduct research in one of the most unusual science classrooms in the UK.


Watford Grammar School has installed a large SOLARDOME® PRO geodesic dome on the school roof as its new, fully equipped science laboratory. Science writer and TV personality Professor Robert Winston will officially open the dome at a special celebration event on 1st October.


The school had wanted to create an extension to its existing facilities; after exploring the options, they decided a geodesic dome would “bring science alive” and provide an inspirational space to nurture a new generation of female scientists. Funded by The Wolfson Foundation, The Lawton Trust, The Women of Vision Trust and The Watford Grammar Schools Foundation, the dome will be a multi-research facility, used primarily to extend the learning of A-Level Science students.


The school chose UK company Solardome Industries to supply the dome as it was the only dome manufacturer that could design a habitable, temperature-controlled space with added ‘wow’ factor. Fitted with two doorways and an electric source air pump, the dome can be heated and cooled, making it usable all year round.


Mark Gregory, Director and Chartered Surveyor for the school, oversaw the design and build, and complimented the Solardome team for their flexibility through a project that changed specification several times before the project began. He described the school’s dome as “bespoke, and nobody else in the UK provides anything quite like it.”


Its innovative design is set to benefit all of the students at the school – whether they study science or not. As Headmistress Dame Helen Hyde DBE explains:


“Within the science department at Watford Girls we have a wealth of expertise in carrying out and publishing scientific research. This science dome will allow our best science students to apply for a chance to investigate their own ideas, to develop and test hypotheses and to improve their knowledge and experience.


“Although the research carried out inside the science dome will of course have a science focus, we see the existence of the dome as an addition to enrich the whole curriculum. It opens access to the higher levels of academic study and will motivate all our students to think beyond the stipulations of an advanced level syllabus” she added.