Environmental Sustainability in Primary Science … and at the Museum!

Many thousands of people enjoy visiting the frogs, snakes, and chameleons in our Vivarium each year, but did you know a key part of the Vivarium’s work is conservation and research into endangered species? Our herpetologist, Andrew Gray, has even rediscovered a rare tree frog once considered extinct whilst on a research trip!

Picture1

The Museum as a whole is dedicated promoting public debate about environmental sustainability issues. “Developing a sustainable world” is a key part of our strategic vision, and through our collections we aim to engage people in some of the major issues facing our planet such as climate change and habitat loss.

You might for instance have marvelled at the panda and dodo in our recent exhibition about extinct and endangered species or been inspired by our ‘Climate Control‘ events.

These debates are now reaching our youngest visitors through our learning programme; you may have already read about our new KS2 workshop, Rainforest Investigators: Extinction and Survival.

We love sharing ideas with like-minded people, so we were delighted to be invited to chat to teachers about our environmental sustainability work at the Association for Science Educators annual conference in Liverpool last week. We even brought a snake, lemur leaf frog and panther chameleon to share!

Even though the primary science curriculum doesn’t mention environmental sustainability specifically, as a group we found dozens of opportunities to integrate these issues into teaching. For example, when we learn about electricity, do the children consider where it comes from? When we learn about materials and changes, do we know whether the materials are sustainable or recyclable? And when we learn about fossils of extinct animals, do we consider modern endangered species?

If those ideas have sparked your imagination, check out the collection of our ideas in this document: Linking Sustainability issues to the Primary Science Curriculum.

I’ve also included a number of useful links below.

Let us know in the comments what you do to promote sustainability with young children, and any other resources you can recommend! 

Useful links:

Advertisements

Remembering the impact of Partition

 

CM pupils

Cedar Mount Pupils in the Memories of Partition exhibition

With the 70th anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan happening earlier this year, Manchester Museum worked with members of Manchester’s South Asian community to explore the experiences and legacies of the creation of India and Pakistan in 1947, with a dedicated exhibition space up on our third floor to share this between August 2017 and January 2018.  Memories of Partition is a collaboration between Manchester Museum, Manchester BME network, Royal Exchange Theatre and Ahmend Iqball Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre. The exhibition showcases six films featuring community members sharing their connections to Partition.

trinity pupil Dec 17

Trinity CofE School pupil in Memories of Partition

Partition is not an easy subject area to discuss, with an estimated 15 million people being displaced in possibly the largest mass migration in human history, especially not with pupils who cannot understand why this topic might be relevant for them even if they are of South Asian heritage. This is why Cat Lumb, Secondary and Post-16 Coordinator (Humanities & Arts) and Amy McDowall (Primary Coordinator) decided to invite a small number of Primary and Secondary pupils to visit the exhibition and also speak with the community participants involved; to see if it would make a difference to the way they thought about this tumultuous and difficult time in history and to help them write a response detailing their own impressions to share with those whom Partition has impacted.

Pupils had an opportunity to spend time on the Memories of Partition exhibition and make connections with the objects presented there, as well as watch some of the oral history films created to accompany the exhibition. All of these films – featuring community members either directly, or indirectly, affected by Partition – are available on the Museum’s YouTube channel and one with Dr. Gandhi (who spoke with all school groups) is highlighted below. [Please note: content is sensitive and may be upsetting.]

 

IMG_2879

Primary School pupils collected images of ways that artist Reena Kallat represented ‘borders’ through nature

After seeing the exhibition, pupils were also able to view the stunning artwork of acclaimed artist Reena Saini Kallat, whose newly-commissioned sculpture Chorus can be seen alongside works that include a series of hybridised animals that represent various nations in conflict.

This thought-provoking exhibition animates the museum with new meanings and inquiries into ideas of identity, memory, history and the natural world, and links in with the topic of Partition.

 

 

Cedar Mount pupils

Cedar Mount Pupils crafting their responses

 

 

It was in this creative environment pupils were asked to collate a response to share with community participants.

For the Secondary students, this was done before speaking with any of them, and demonstrates their newly developed empathetic responses to an event that many knew about but had little understanding of:

 

 

 

 

“Now that I’ve learnt about Partition I feel disgusted and really upset imagining people being murdered and witnessing so many deaths at a young age” – KS3 Pupil

“I feel that although it was a time of suffering and sadness some people used it as the start of a new life with new experiences. It was a chance to learn new things as people moved abroad, however I still feel sad that the experience was a stressful time” – KS4 Pupil

“I’ve learnt that this is bigger than I thought because they had to go elsewhere and there was a lot of conflict.” – KS3 Pupil

Their written response was detailed and we can only share small snippets here, but some are insightful and particularly astute:

“I went through pain and conflict; being separated, abandoned and lonely; scenes of fighting, killing torturing; but we never knew why at the time; because we were young.”

“I went through many challenges, emotions and struggles; such as leaving home, and leaving our possessions like jewellery, money and memories behind. I was filled with fear as many were being killed. I went through pain and suffering as well as misery and grief. There was lots of bloodshed.”

“I came to a different country. I felt upset and uncomfortable. I missed my old house along with my family. It was confusing and scary.”

“Now I feel happy that I am living in such a developed country which not only has improved me it has improved a lot of other people, but even though I am happy, I am still sad that I have lost something un-priceable [sic.] like my childhood memories.

The Primary School pupils created a group poem following their interview with Dr. Gandhi, which can be seen here: I came from a city full of rumours. 

Some teachers also shared their thoughts about the day:

“[The activities] gave the children the chance to think about the same issue from a different perspective. It was like it gave them layers of depth to the issue.”

“It gave the Indian/Pakistini children a sense of their own history and culture. It was also interesting to hear that some people thought partition was a good thing.”

“The children came away with a greater depth and understanding of partition. It was fantastic. Thank you so much.”

With thanks to University of Manchester’s Widening Participation Department who helped to fund this project. 

At Face Value: Manchester Museum, Common Cause Foundation and TeachFirst

Guest blog by Eleanor Ridley, TeachFirst Ambassador and Teacher at The Willows Primary School. 

When I originally saw that there was an opportunity via TeachFirst Summer Projects to work with the Manchester Museum, I sent my application in roughly as fast as a lightning strike. The main purpose of my time here has been to work with Secondary and Post-16 Coordinator, Cat Lumb, and Common Cause Coordinator, Shanna Lennon to investigate what type of values are communicated on the Manchester Museum’s pages about learning as part of the Museum’s work with Common Cause Foundation.

What is Common Cause Foundation?

Common Cause Foundation is an organisation which studies cultural values and explores how we can understand these in order to help us respond to current social and environmental challenges. One of the main findings is that 74% of people place more importance on compassionate values than on selfish values. However, 77% of the people interviewed believe that other people hold selfish values to be more important. Essentially, we have a gap between what we actually value, and what we believe about what people value, and it makes the world a lonelier place, where people are less likely to feel connected to their local and global community. The questions for major social institutions are: How are we going to communicate our values to help reduce this gap? And what are our values in the first place?

The Values of the Learning Team

At the beginning of the project, Cat sent me to go and find out what the values of the Learning Team were to see whether everyone was on the same page or not. The result was that yes, the Learning Team really do have shared values and a shared vision, and a shared understanding of the value of learning at Manchester Museum. The team members separately proclaimed the following  unanimous beliefs, in roughly the same order, every time.

word art

Some word art displaying the core values of the Learning Team when interviewed

1. The value of curiosity and self-directed learning and getting the chance to explore for yourself.

2. The authentic experience of being in a museum and handling real objects from the museum collections.

3. The importance of access to this cultural capital for students from all backgrounds and all abilities to the collections.

4. The museum as somewhere which can inspire aspirations, enabling students to see personal possibilities and their potential for the future.

Through every meeting and discussion that I witnessed, these values have been transparent. It is very obvious, even in two weeks, that the people working in the Learning Team care deeply and consistently about reaching out to a wide demographic (literally taking the museum to the people if the people can’t make it to the museum). It is also clear that they have a profound belief in the value of the experiences that they can offer through Manchester Museum collections, educationally and emotionally. Communicating these values will be the icing on the cake.

Education and Museums

Those working in education know the huge challenges that are to be faced in fighting educational inequality, which can be hugely daunting. As the Common Cause Foundation research shows, the feeling that benevolence is not widespread can lead to a feeling of apathy and helplessness. Organisations such as TeachFirst and Manchester Museum have tremendous power in communicating common goals and helping spread the message that students should get access to rich educational experiences, regardless of their socio-economic background, and inspiring more people to join the conversation.

This project has been an inspiring and heartening insight into the hearts and minds behind the educational programmes at Manchester Museum, and I wish the team the best of luck in continuing to promote their message.

Pictures

Stories Found Under the Ground: Big Sat 15 July 2017

Guest blog by Sadiya Fern, Archaeology and Anthropology student at The University of Manchester.

Hi there! I’m a second year Archaeology & Anthropology student here on placement at the Manchester Museum for two weeks. I’ve had an insightful experience here at the Museum and was lucky enough to take part in a Big Saturday on Sat 15 July.  The theme for the most recent ‘Big Saturday’ was ‘Stories Found under the Ground’ as part of the Festival of Archaeology 2017. The event attracted all kinds of visitors; I had interacted with a family from Rome and a family from France as well as many local families eager to participate in the activities. Spread across the three Discovery Centre rooms were various object handling ‘zones’: the Ancient Roman Zone displayed Ancient Warfare Replicas, visitors enjoyed trying the helmet on, particularly parents. The Ancient Egypt Zone also displayed Ancient Warfare Replicas and was just as popular, particularly as the objects could be handled by visitors bringing a lot of amazement to the visitors.

The Stone Age Zone had visitors attempting to decipher which of the items were from the Stone Age and which were not. The Stone Painting Zone which was inspired by 11,000 year old Stone Age stones found in a French cave, Le Mas d’Azil with mysterious patterns on them. Visitors of all ages had fun creating their own painted stones and small works of art, there were many happy little faces upon collection of their now dry painted stones at the end of the day.

I helped with the Dig Box activity, where children were encouraged to roll up their sleeves and fine tune their archaeology skills which proved to be quite popular and not just because of the sand! This activity discovered many young archaeologists who were very keen and eager to have a little dig to see what they could find. Once they had found some objects and brushed them clean, the little explorers went on to examine the objects to figure out what they could be and how old they were. I heard many children shout in excitement “Look mummy! Look what I found!” and most children over the age of around 5 were just as excited about discovering what the objects they found were and where they came from.

Manchester Libraries were promoting their free summer reading challenge, encouraging children to read 6 books over the summer to be able to win stickers, certificates and prizes highlighting free access to libraries across the city. There was a wonderful reading area where many parents read with their children, a colouring area, and a little craft area too.

In the Victorian Objects Zone visitors were piecing together Victorian Manchester through 19th century pottery found in an excavation on Deansgate. Broken plates, teacups and much more were being taped together almost like a jigsaw, although slightly trickier as the pieces could have sharp edges requiring much more patience!

Some comments from the day include:
“I absolutely love this place, it is adventurous!” – Macey
“I discovered different stones and how an archaeologist digs for fossils. I had fun doing the activities.”
“Fantastic! Good to learn a bit about history, thank you.”
“I loved it!”
“Great day out, very informative and your staff are fantastic!” – O, J, F, R

The Museum’s next Big Saturday: Modelling Nature is on Sat 19 Aug: 11am-4pm.

 

The end of my museum placement

Luke_Placement_final dayGuest blog by Luke Jarrett, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) Animal Behaviour undergraduate student

Hello it’s Luke again I know it’s been a while since my last blog, but I have been on placement with the Learning Team here at Manchester Museum for the past nine months. I thought I would share some of my highlights and some of the things I have learnt whilst being here at Manchester Museum.

I will start off with one of the things I am most proud about that I have done since being here at the Museum, which is the fact that I created a self-guided resource from scratch for one of the Museum’s Enrichment days. The brief I was given was to create a self-guided resource for year 7 based on biomimicry in the Living Worlds gallery. The most fun and also the hardest part of making this activity was my idea of creating three riddles for the three animals which the pupils had to find on gallery. Within each riddle there was a clue to what the animal was and where you could find it within the Museum gallery. My favourite was the riddle “I spend my life swimming in the sea but it makes me very tired so now I just hang out in the gallery. What am I?” – can you guess which specimen on the Living Worlds gallery this relates to? After the Enrichment day the feedback I got from this activity was more than I could have hoped for from both students and teachers alike, it was all positive with some students and teachers saying it was their favourite activity from the whole Enrichment day.

Inflatable MuseumAnother thing I have been involved in during my nine months here at the Museum which I have loved has been the outreach visits to local schools. The main form of outreach I have experienced is the Inflatable Museum which is exactly what it sounds like. It is a big pop-up museum which we take to local schools that can’t make it to the Museum and run a session for the kids inside it. This also helped me develop my understanding and improved my use of the Museum’s main way of teaching which is enquiry based learning.

So over the last nine months I have learnt so much from using enquiry based learning effectively to that full dinosaur skeletons on display are normally casts of the bones and not the real thing (I know my mind was blown too). I feel like this placement has been fantastic for me as a person and my future, as I have learnt so much which I couldn’t have learnt if I hadn’t come on placement. Such as my presentation skills and working with not only the public but different age groups and being able to change my language dependent on my audience.  This placement has got me thinking about going into something similar to this but within zoos as I see that as the perfect mix between this placement, the skills I have gained from it and my animal behaviour degree.  So I would just like to thank Manchester Museum’s Learning Team for putting up with me stealing their computers and my supervisor Emily for having me on placement and for teaching me and helping me develop my skills.

We Make a Difference

Jack_MaDAwards
Jack with his certificate at the Making a Difference Awards Ceremony.

Last night at the University’s Making a Difference Award Ceremony our Inflatable Museum Coordinator, Jack Ridley, won the ‘Outstanding professional support services, library and cultural institution’s support for social responsibility’ award for his fantastic work on the Inflatable Museum.

The Inflatable Museum is our pop-up (literally) portable learning space that takes immersive, inspirational learning experiences into primary schools: watch a short film about Jack’s award-winning work.

In line with the University’s Widening Participation and Social Responsibility agendas, the project has overcome some of the barriers that otherwise prevent young people from engaging with Manchester’s cultural venues and universities.

We also got a chance to watch the new Measuring the Difference  impact film* which showcases some of the ways in which the University works to ‘make a difference’ to the social and environmental wellbeing of our communities and wider society.

It is really great to see the Museum’s work in this area is being recognised, so well done Jack!

*can you spot the Learning Team member? [hint: look for the smile!]

Summer Bookings and Future Plans

Wow! We’re amazed to say that the Primary Learning Programme here at Manchester Museum is now almost booked up for the entire summer term.

We host over 30,000 school pupils every year in the Museum, in our curriculum-linked workshops and in activities led by class teachers themselves. The popularity of our Learning Programme is testament to the hard work of countless people: Learning Team members past and present for developing and delivering the workshops, our Visitor Team for their help in making the visits run so smoothly, and curators for providing inspiring displays and exhibitions.

Unfortunately, we do turn away thousands of children every year because we just don’t have capacity for everyone. Our focus is always on providing an amazing experience for all visitors, and too many bookings can make the building overcrowded and hinder everyone’s enjoyment – including that of our schools.

sa-image

Luckily, we have a plan! We are currently in a final stages of submitting for HLF funding for our Courtyard Project, which will transform the Museum with a major two-storey extension, a new main entrance, and much-improved visitor facilities inspired by a new ethos of a ‘museum for life.’ It will also enable us to accommodate thousands of extra visitors each year, and help us meet the ever-increasing demand for our Learning programme. Please follow the Learning blog and our Twitter to get the latest information about how building work will affect school visits in the coming years.

We know it will be disappointing that you can’t visit this term. Bookings are now open for September 2017-March 2018, so do get next year’s trip booked in now.

You might also be interested in our Inflatable Museum, an inspiring new outreach offer designed to bring the wonder and curiosity of the Museum to your school hall.

We hope we’ll see you again soon!

Amy McDowall, Primary Learning Coordinator
amy.mcdowall@manchester.ac.uk / 0161 275 7357

P.S. We still have availability for Secondary and Post-16 groups.

Come to the Museum to be Rainforest Investigators!

Today we officially launch our exciting new ‘Rainforest Investigators’ session here at the Manchester Museum. This a brand new environmental education session based on the differing rainforest habitats and developed for Key Stage 2 pupils, which is for upper primary/age 7-11 year olds. It links strongly to National Curriculum Year 4 Science ‘Living things and […]

via Rainforest Investigators — FROG BLOG MANCHESTER

Clarendon Sixth Form: Unveiling South Asia- Journey to Manchester

IMG_1106With it being the Easter holidays here in central Manchester we are very pleased to host the annual Photography display of images by Clarendon Sixth Form students. These Year 12 students are studying for their BTEC Extended Diploma in Photography and the project with Manchester Museum contributes to their units in ‘Ideas and Concepts in Art and Design’ and ‘Studio Photography’.

Typically these displays have been linked with the Museum’s entire collection and have been shown in black and white (see previous posts), but this year we focused the students on a particular theme: Manchester’s connection to South Asia.

With the Museum’s upcoming Courtyard Project to build a permanent South Asia gallery (along with a new space for special exhibitions) we encouraged the students to explore the Museum’s current South Asia collection with Living Cultures Curator Stephen Welsh. They then used this as inspiration to research Manchester’s own links with South Asia – be that through food, tradition, people or religion. Each student then presented one image to us to demonstrate those connections which appears in the final exhibition.

Clarendon Sixth Form students’ work can be seen in The Study on the 3rd floor of Manchester Museum until the summer.

 

Journeys across the sea and beyond: talking about current issues at Manchester Museum

You might notice on your next visit to the Museum that we have some new additions to our displays.

Our curators are thinking a lot about contemporary collecting and how we as an organisation respond to current issues such as climate change and migration.

Some of our new installations might raise some complex feelings in some of your pupils, so we wanted you to be aware in advance of some of the things you may encounter on your visit and suggest how you might want to utilise these objects to start conversations with your pupils about the issues they highlight.

Refugee Lifejacket

Life jacket from Lesvos on display at Manchester Museum

Refugee’s lifejacket from Lesvos in the entrance of Manchester Museum

For example, a refugee’s lifejacket, from the Greek island of Lesvos,  has recently gone on display in the main entrance. As Bryan Sitch, a curator here, has said:

“Our mission is to promote understanding between different cultures and to work towards a more sustainable world … We hope that this work will help us to reach out to Syrian members of the community as well as other diaspora communities.”

Visitors can watch a video about how the life jacket was collected and engage in discussion about it on Twitter via  .

We are aware that some of the stories and images linked to this object (though not displayed with it) could be upsetting for some children. However, Amnesty International have some excellent expert guidance on how to discuss these issues with older children, which you may want to introduce before a visit to the Museum.

Child migrant stories, a resource about the experiences of child migrants today and in the past, may also be useful.

We believe that the object on its own should not be upsetting unless a child has a particular related personal experience.

‘Nu Shabtis’ Journeys

nu shabtis

Examples of Zahed Taj-Eddin’s ‘Nu Shabtis’ outside Manchester Museum

From the end of March, our Graeco-Roman Egyptian Portraits and Egyptian Worlds galleries will be temporarily home instead to an installation by a Syrian-born artist,  Zahed Taj-Eddin.

Zahed’s ‘Nu Shabtis’ are inspired by the common Egyptian tomb item, the shabti (sometimes known as ushabtis). Classes who take part in our Egyptian Worlds workshop will encounter real shabtis close up: they are the servants of the afterlife, placed in tombs to work for the deceased.

But Zahed’s ‘Nu Shabtis’ are new works of art made of beautiful bright blue faience. Part of the installation sees the Nu Shabtis suspended from the Egyptian Worlds gallery ceiling. The work reflects on the experience of migrants travelling across the Mediterranean towards a new life, much as the ancient Egyptians believed their shabtis would have travelled over to the afterlife.

They present an accessible way to help children think about human stories of journeys. What makes us leave a place? What makes us stay? What do we believe about our future? What do we believe about life after death? Again, the resources from Amnesty International might help you explore this with your pupils.

Seeing the works as artefacts and as works of art, you could look at similarities and differences between the ancient shabtis and Nu Shabtis. How do we know which are ancient and which are modern? Why would an artist be inspired by the ancient? What was Zahed’s purpose in drawing parallels between old and new objects and stories? Are the pupils inspired by anything in the Museum to create their own works of art?

Please note that the Nu Shabti installation will mean that our Graeco-Roman Mummies and Portraits will not be on display until July.

We would love to hear your stories of how you have used either of these installations with your classes and how they responded to them. 

If you have any questions or concerns about these displays, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us:

Amy McDowall – Primary Learning Coordinator

Cat Lumb – Secondary and Post-16 Arts & Humanities Coordinator