AN asteroid has crash landed in Widnes and local people are suffering from a mystery illness.

That is the daunting scenario facing children in an exciting education project.

Catalyst Science Discovery Centre in West Bank has developed a unique workshop after winning £10,000 from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) International Year of Chemistry challenge.

Staff designed ‘Outbreak’ to promote team building skills as young scientists have to discover what the outbreak is and how to prevent it.

Professor David Phillips, past president of the RSC, said: “We need to release the energy and enthusiasm of young children and channel it to encourage them to become professional scientists and young adults that understand scientific principles.

“We need to enhance the status of the teaching profession and we need resources to do this.

“Catalyst is an excellent resource and education manager Phil Day is a real inspiration.”

Twenty eight pupils from Victoria Road Primary School in Runcorn who trialled the project demonstrated what they had learnt.

They had to work quickly to prevent an outbreak developing into an epidemic. One team contentrated on the patients and symptoms whilst the other focused on the meteorite.

They shared their findings at emergency COBRA meetings with Catalyst staff.

As children made new discoveries and drew detailed conclusions, they recorded their results on laptops.

Dr Robert Parker, chief executive officer of the RSC, said: “I would like to add my congratulations to Catalyst and all involved in this project.

“Outbreak has been an inspirational project and worthy winner of the £10,000 prize.”

Meryl Jameson from Catalyst said: “The project aims to add a fantastic sense of excitement and provide context to some standard school chemistry experiments.

“This is something that is so important in helping children to understand the importance that chemistry has in our every day lives.”

The Outbreak package will soon be distributed to schools and science centres across the UK.