Primary school to commemorate Belfast scientist who proved Einstein wrong

John Bell Day

John Bell Day

A Belfast primary school is set to commemorate perhaps its most illustrious alumni, the Nobel Prize nominated John Bell, with a special day named in his honour.

Fane Street Primary School will launch the inaugural ‘John Bell Day’ today, Monday 6th November, demonstrating his world-renowned contribution to modern science as well as his local roots.

Born on Tate’s Avenue, Bell attended Fane Street in the 1930s, before going on to attend Queen’s University Belfast and becoming one of the most prolific scientists of the 20th century. His explanation of the quantum world of particle physics disproved one of Einstein’s theories and his work led to the development of quantum computing, which resulted in his Nobel Prize nomination.

Councillor Sonia Copeland, Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, will launch a short film about Bell’s life starring the Fane Street pupils as well as unveiling an Urban-art mural on the walls of the school.

She said: “John Bell wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth – but he was brilliant, world-leading, courageous, unpretentious and challenging.

“He represents the best of Belfast.”

Hilary Cunningham, Principal of Fane Street Primary School, said: “The pupils have experienced a tremendous range of cross-curricular activities from exploring the wonderful and inspiring story of John Bell. They have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the video is something that they can all feel justifiably proud of.”

Michael Graham, Chair of the South Belfast Partnership Board, said: “John Bell Day and today’s launch has come about through several partners working together. For the pupils of Fane Street Primary School, the launch of the film and unveiling of the mural will be the culmination of an educational outreach programme which included support from the Widening Participation Unit at Queen’s University.”

The programme provided the children with a range of interview skills, workshops and engaged with Bell’s biographer, Professor Andrew Whittaker. They were also given the opportunity to attend a scientific taster day at the university.

Angela Johnston of the Greater Village Regeneration Trust said: “John Bell really is someone to look up to. He used education to transform his life and – ultimately – the world. He is a fantastic role model to have.”

Councillor Copeland further commented: “Whilst the collaboration with Fane Street Primary School demonstrates a push to herald John Bell as a household name and global ambassador for Northern Ireland, it also has the capacity to encourage an increased interaction with science amongst children of all backgrounds.”

In association with the Royal Irish Academy, Queen’s University will also host a John Bell Day lecture at Riddell Hall on Monday evening, where the impact of his work and recent developments in quantum computing will be explored.

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