Archive for the ‘Things that interest us’ Category
Here at the Manchester Museum we absolutely love projects that get pupils involved in real life science that matters – they are, after all, the researchers of tomorrow.
So we were really pleased to get information on the ‘Crowdsourcing4Climate: Community Rainfalls Collections’ pilot project, which hopes to get the public and schools collecting rainfall data to add to the data we can use in all sorts of scientific research. It’s simple but could be a brilliant and effective school project and will support research at Manchester, Birmingham and Leicester Universities.
We’ve attached some information on how you can get involved and would love to see local schools contributing – so do take a look and let us know if you need any further information C4C_TeacherGuide-1.
First a brief introduction: I’m Hannah, I have recently joined the Learning Team at Manchester Museum as maternity cover for the Primary Learning Co-ordinator. It is all rather busy here so I am going to keep this post quite brief. Something that we are currently trying to think about is how we know our audiences, and this got me thinking… why do schools visit museums? What is it that museums offer to schools that makes them worth visiting? Personally, I assume that it has something to do with the objects and collections – isn’t it?
Well, rather than guessing, I thought it might be useful to try to find out! I have put together a very brief (2 questions) poll, and would like to gather as many responses from both teachers and museum educators as possible. I am going to start off by releasing it for just a week – cut off point is Friday 3rd May at 17:00. I’ll keep you posted with the results but please do spread the word (and the link) to any teachers / educators that you know: Click here to take survey
We’ve been really lucky this year to be able to work with Tameside College‘s Photography students again this year, creating an exhibition that is inspired by the Museum’s collection.
On the 1st March the students were invited into the Museum, given tours of the galleries and collection stores and encouraged to document their visit with photographs. This then formed the basis of their brief:
“Students will be working with Manchester Museum to produce work for an exhibition, in response to the Museum’s collection. They will be utilizing the techniques in the darkroom and the studio to produce a body of work shot on film on either Large or Medium Format cameras, in the studio and printed in the darkroom”
They had until the 27th March to create three final images each, with at least one of each going into the exhibition.
On the 19th March I was asked to go into the College and ‘critique’ the work done so far; to identify the final images for the exhibition and encouraging the students to write labels to accompany their pieces. I was amazed by the thought and detail that had gone into every example of the work done by each student. They had taken elements from the collection and considered them from multiple angles, linking very complex concepts with inspiring ideas and creative input.
Some of the aspects the students were using in their work included using the Zoology specimens to examine the protective layer that animals have – including humans – and metaphorically demonstrating this through masks. There were numerous reflections on the Egyptology collection, scrutinising the means of communication – hieroglyphic script – and translating that into imagery associated with the way we communicate today – via clothing or graffiti, in addition to the mummification process and the preservation of memory and stories.
Some students were intrigued by the idea of what occurs behind the scenes at the Museum – the specimens we keep hidden in stores, and the means by which we classify the collection. This led to responses associated with the food chain, – linking in with the recent horse-meat scandal – dominance in the natural world and the issue of domestic violence (represented by bruised fruit), change over time – as evidenced by Darwin – and how we label not just things, but people.
The exhibition opened on Friday 29th March and has been in place for two weeks, with the closing date on Sunday 14th April. It looks fantastic in our Alhambra space between the Egyptian World gallery and Living Worlds, and there have even been interactive elements for our visitors to become part of the legacy of the project.
All in all, it’s been a fantastic exhibition and the students have done brilliantly as part of the project; they should all be very proud.
Do you have an idea for a clever invention that could solve an every day problem?
BBC Learning and CBBC’s Newsround have launched a very exciting new competition aimed at groups of primary school children aged 8-11. CBBC’s Dick and Dom appeared on the Newsround sofa to launch the competition and explain a little bit more about it.
In the link above you can find all the information about how to enter and some inspirational films about inventing! The competition deadline is the 24th May 2013.
Competition winners get their invention made into a real working device!
We were very excited to work with our colleagues from Widening Participating, and one of our Partnership institutions, Whitworth Art Gallery, on creating two, one day workshops for Secondary students concentrating on Manchester’s History.
This followed on from our successful model last year, as part of the Manchester Histories Festival, where various schools brought students to participate in workshops at the Whitworth and the Museum. They were also treated to an introductory lecture on Manchester’s history – this year – by Professor John Pickstone.
As part of the Museum’s workshop, called Collecting the World, students were asked to investigate the collection and determine how, and why, it ended up in Manchester. They identified objects of interest on the Manchester Gallery and their links to the city. Then they were allocated objects from the collection not on display and asked to research them using online resources to find their link to Manchester. They were encouraged to consider sources of their information and the relevance any connected individuals had to their home city.
All in all it was really wonderful to be able to focus on Manchester’s history and how the Museum’s collection links to the city and illustrious indviduals – such as William Boyd Dawkins, Jesse Haworth, Joseph Whitworth and Lydia Becker – not to mention highlight historical Manchester events such as the Exhibition of Art Treasures, the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal and the Peterloo Massacre.
Questioned at the end of the session on which object they felt best represented Manchester’s History, the majority of students chose the Ship Canal Medal due to it’s links with trade and economy that helped make Manchester the hub of industry in the North and contributed to it becoming known as ‘Cottonopolis’!
Many thanks to all those invovled on the day: Stockport School, Parrs Wood HS, Manchester Health Academy, Manchester Enterprise Academy, Alder Community School, Cardinal Langley RC HS, Loreto High School.
We’ll be repeating these fantastic local history focused days next year during the Manchester Histories Festival celebrations.
Here at the Manchester Museum we’ve had a couple of busy half term weeks, there’s been lots of very exciting activities going on. This has given the team in the Education Department a chance to plan and prepare for future projects however.
Coming up in March we have a big focus on Primary Science with an Interactive Science day with undergraduate students from the Faculty of Life Sciences here at the University. The students will be delivering a range of interactive Science sessions to spark the imaginations of future scientists.
We also have a Sustainability day in March where primary school children will be looking at the way we live in the modern world and working out the carbon footprint created from the food we eat.
Look out for what the school groups get up to in future blog posts!
Recently Boothstown Methodist Primary school came to the Museum on a visit and brought with them a very valuable find!
They presented to us a T.rex egg, over 65 million years old, that was originally from the USA. According to the pupils the egg had mysteriously dropped from the sky and landed in their classroom.
However, using their skills of deduction they were able to reason that the egg had most likely fallen from an overhead plane on its way to Manchester so that it could be safely deposited in our collection.
Therefore, they kept it safe and returned it to us in perfect condition. Our thanks goes out to the school for rescuing this very important find and delivering it to our door!
Just been to the Staff Forum where members of the Education Team talked about the brilliant work they do with schools and other groups. Some 29,000 schoolchildren visit the Museum every year and 80% of the classes have a taught session. The evaluation feedback is invariably 'good' and 'excellent' and the vast majority say they would visit the Museum again.
sad happy to report that our Secondary and Post-16 Science Co-ordinator, Alexa Jeanes, will be leaving us for exciting new adventures in the New Year. She started working at the Museum over five years ago when she was delivering on our Real World Science programme as a PhD demonstrator. Then, in June 2009, she became our Secondary and Post-16 co-ordinator and the rest is, as they say, history!
Since she’s been at the Museum she’s developed so many popular, fun and educational experiences that thousands of students across Manchester (and beyond) have participated in: from examining colour throughout the natural world in Nature’s Palette, to debating on stem cell research in The Hard Cell Study Day.
She’s been such a great work colleague and all of us at the Museum are sad that she is leaving the team because she contributes so much. We have no doubt that our Science contacts – teachers, academics and students alike – will also miss her and wish her well on her next adventure: which starts with a trip to Central and South America!
Here’s what Alexa had to say about her time here:
“I have thoroughly enjoyed working at the Manchester Museum over the past 5 (!) years and have seen it develop and change in many ways. It has been such fun to translate my passion for science into workshops for students and show them how interesting and fun science can be. It is always special to work in an amazing environment such as this and with such incredible objects. The thrill of holding a fossil that is 300 milion years old or seeing a beautiful insect never changes. It has also been a pleasure working with enthusuiatic and knowlegable academics from the Univesity of Manchester and the Museum and bringing their fascinating research and collections to life. I will miss everyone I have worked with over the years, my colleagues, teachers and students and thank you for making my time at Manchester Museum so enjoyable!”
Our team of PhD students that work as postgraduate demonstrators delivering workshops are an important part of the Secondary and Post-16 Science programme at Manchester Museum. Their enthusaism and science communication skills really bring the sessions to life, as well as giving the students access to young scientists that can act as positive role models for the students visiting the museum. Rebecca Brading, a PhD students in Faculty of Life Sciences at University of Manchester joined our team in September 2011 and has written a blog post about her experience below:
When I first began my PhD, Alexa Jeanes from the Manchester Museum gave a talk about working as a demonstrator. At the time, I knew that I enjoyed working with secondary and post-16 students through my work as a STEM ambassador, and I was beginning to realise how much I liked talking about science. Working as a LifeLab demonstrator sounded perfect for me, and I was lucky enough to be invited to a group interview. However, this included giving a talk to the rest of the group about my PhD- something that I found very nerve-wracking at the time.
During the interview, a current demonstrator called Liz Granger gave a talk about working in the LifeLab, and she told how working there had completely changed how she felt about public speaking. Having worked as a demonstrator for a year now, I have to say that I completely agree- now my biggest problem with public speaking is remembering to stop talking at some point!
It is not just my confidence that has massively improved, it is also my ability to organise and plan sessions, think and adapt on my feet, and help students to learn without just giving them the answer. I have realised just how much I enjoy working with this age group- my experience has been of witty, creative and massively enthusiastic young people.
Something that I wasn’t expecting is how inspiring it can be running a LifeLab session. Seeing how eager and determined the students are, coupled with how interested they can be in my PhD research, really rejuvenates my enthusiasm for my own project (which is helpful when things don’t go so well).
Working at the Manchester Museum has opened a new world of opportunities for me within life sciences, and I now also work as a Widening Participation Fellow for the University of Manchester, as well as being involved in other study days and open days at the Manchester Museum. It can be difficult trying to juggle all these different roles with doing my PhD, but the rewards more than make up for the challenges. It has been a fantastic experience so far, and I am always looking forward to delivering my next workshop at Manchester Museum.
You can find out more about Becky’s PhD research at her blog: http://ddar.manchester.ac.uk/blog/