Working Scientifically at the Museum

You might have seen our post in May about ‘Inside Out’ – a project with primary schools last year that had children discovering for themselves how the real-life setting of the museum works in a scientific way. They checked pest traps, created an ethical experiment with tadpoles, curated some ancient Chinese objects….and much more!

The children worked really hard to develop their findings into five fantastic films that were premiered at the Great Science Share flagship event in June, as well as events in schools to share with family and friends. We’re delighted to say that these videos are now live and ready for children all over the world to learn from.

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The videos could be used as an introduction to a science-focused visit to the museum, as part of a discussion about scientific careers, or as an introduction to real-life working scientifically.

They touch on collections care, entomology (bugs!), herpetology (amphibians and reptiles), Egyptology, archaeology, palaeontology, and more. All five areas of working scientifically are featured: Identifying, classifying and grouping; observing over time; research using secondary sources; comparative and fair testing; and pattern-seeking.

We absolutely loved working with the 5 schools, 10 teachers and 150 children who took part in this project, and we hope they had fun too!

“[The project] has been massive for boosting my pupil’s confidence in science.” (project teacher)

“Nearly every child said their highlight for the year was visiting Manchester Museum.” (project teacher)

For future opportunities like this for your pupils, please sign up to the Primary & Early Years E-newsletter. With many thanks to the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Science and Engineering for the Widening Participation funding that made this project possible, and our fantastic partners in SEERIH. We hope you enjoy the films!

Ancient Egypt at Central Library


Manchester Museum’s latest installation at Manchester’s Central Library – Young, Rich & Famous – challenges us to think of how we will be remembered after death and what we will leave behind.

If you’re missing our Ancient Worlds galleries, but you’re taking a class into central Manchester this school year, this could be a great way to enrich your history topic in 2020 – with zero entry fee.

What might my class do there?

We’ve put together notes, activity sheets and resources for key stages 2 and 3 to help you get the most out of your class’s visit. Your pupils might:

  • Help Princess Isis to entertain the gods
  • Sketch and annotate an artefact like an archaeologist
  • Compare ancient Egyptian tombs to modern social media
  • Debate whether these artefacts should be in Manchester
  • and more!

The display can comfortably fit around 15 children at once. Later in 2020, we expect to offer a combined visit to Central Library using our amazing Inflatable Museum at a discounted rate. Contact Jenny to express your interest.

How do I book?

To book your visit to Central Library, please contact Angela Rawcliffe.

Can I make a day of it?

In the same building, why not ask Central Library if they can provide a workshop on books about ancient Egypt, or visit Archives Plus to get stuck into some local history?

You might also combine your library visit with a trip to the nearby historic John Rylands Library on Deansgate (perhaps for their popular Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs workshop), or to Manchester Art Gallery, just across the road.

Central Library is right next to the Metrolink St Peter’s Square stop.

Let us know how you get on!

Download: Activity sheets and teacher notes

Festive Ancient Egypt!

We know it can be tricky to fit in school trips and even visitors to school during December. The hall is taken up with panto rehearsals and staff are rushed off their feet.

So let us take the hassle out of your December with our Pop-up Festive Ancient Egypt offer! 

We’ll bring to you a miniature version of our Inflatable Museum (gazebo-style!) that can fit into your classroom – bringing the style and excitement of the Inflatable without the need for your school hall.

We’ll run a version of our Archive Explorer: Ancient Egypt workshop – complete with real ancient artefacts and mummification challenge – but with a festive twist.

And in the spirit of seasonal goodwill, we’re offering this at specially discounted rates:

– For 1 class in a day: £250  £180

– For 2 classes in a day: £380 total  £250 total

– For 3 classes in a day: £500 total  £300 total

Places are limited and first-come, first served within a 30 minute drive time of M13 9PL on Wednesdays and Thursdays in December. Drop an email if you’re interested.


Join our award-winning Shabtis in School project

Imagine if your school could host a real ancient Egyptian museum artefact.

What could you do with this unique opportunity?


…This experience with the shabti is something these children will tell their grandchildren.”

Our award-winning Shabtis in School project places ancient Egyptian shabti funerary figures in primary and secondary schools across Manchester. The awe and wonder of this artefact is a powerful tool to inspire your pupils, staff and local community.

Manchester Museum is pleased to invite the next phase of schools to take part in this very special project.

“A fantastic stimulus to hook the children”

“It has been a fantastic opportunity for us [teachers] to develop our subject knowledge”

“The kudos of actually housing a real artefact from a museum put a real positive focus on the school”

This project aims to:

  • raise aspiration and build skills in history for pupils
  • expand subject knowledge for teachers
  • provide a focus for your community engagement
  • enhance visibility and reputation of your school
  • promote cross-curricular collaboration between professionals, inside and outside of the school
  • build social and cultural capital for your pupils

We are offering:

  • professional installation of a genuine museum artefact in your school between January and June 2020 (no additional insurance or security required)
  • a collaborative planning and CPD event in September 2019, and a network of like-minded teachers
  • resources, activity suggestions and case studies to inspire your planning
  • access to museum professional educators, conservators and curators including Egyptologist Dr Campbell Price

The package in total is worth around £1500, but this year we are able to offer it free of charge in return for detailed evaluative feedback and active contribution to resource development.

What would you do with your shabti?

Get some ideas from the pilot schools case study.


Parrs Wood High School Shabti Display 2018-19

Want to know more?

Contact us by email with any questions or to arrange a phone call. Alternatively pop into our Late event on Thursday 20 June for a chat.

What are we looking for?

This is a creative, innovative project where the more you put in the more you will get out. Our pilot schools have shown that the hook of the artefact is a fantastic way to bring staff, pupils and the community together around a real point of pride and inspiration.

We have a very limited number of spaces on the project and expect demand to be high. Therefore we will prioritise schools who can demonstrate in their application that:

  • their teachers will benefit from the collaborative CPD and development opportunities
  • they will use their shabti creatively (e.g. across a broad curriculum, to teach history innovatively, or for parental engagement in learning)
  • the shabti would have a wide impact in their school community (e.g. a high number of individuals will be in contact with it and/or plans will allow for deep and rich engagement)

Before you apply …

See this draft outline of expected timescales, our commitment to you, and what we’d be asking your school to commit to. Please make sure your senior leadership team have read this before you apply.

Ready to go?

Tell us your plans by applying online by 5pm on 28 June 2019.

What will happen next?

We will notify successful applicants by Friday 5 July. We will then ask for signed copies of the project agreement to be returned by Monday 15 July. More details of resources available will be sent over the summer to aid your long-term planning, which can be completed in full during the CPD event (essential) in September 2019.

“It’s a fantastic hook, and it offers so many opportunities to use as a stimulus for enquiry, not just in history, but there’s so many other options [like] philosophical debates, writing historical fiction about it. There’s all this discovery that children can have and I think that’s a really exciting thing”

“I think it has engaged all our pupils and it has created learning opportunities to develop those key skills, research, that analysis, that evaluation, which are skills they need in all subjects …This experience with the shabti is something these children will tell their grandchildren.”

Apply now

Early Years update

We are particularly pleased to be welcoming more nursery and reception groups visiting the museum for self led visits this term. Even with our reduced capacity at the museum during our capital redevelopment project we are trying to accommodate as many visits as possible . For a self led visit you still need to book through our system and hopefully you are finding this process straightforward.


Explorer bags

You can book our Explorer Bags to use on the Fossils gallery or the natural history galleries.

Handling tables

At certain times you will also be able to get up close to and handle objects from our collection on our handling tables ( which are volunteer led),  including in our Under 5’s gallery Nature Discovery.

Extension activities and sharing experiences back in the classroom

To support your visit you may wish to bring your own resources, which may include:

Cameras / Ipads

Photographs can be used to document your visit and to use as an aid for children to talk about their visit or document it in other ways They can also be used to share memories of the visit with other children/ staff in school and with parents.

Drawing materials

Enjoy opportunities for observation, drawing and mark making inspired by our objects.

Story time on the galleries

Bring a book linked to your topic and enjoy a break and some quiet time on our galleries to share a story. We also have a collection of  books in Nature Discovery gallery linked.

Parental Engagement

The Museum is FREE and open at weekends and in the holidays but we know that all parents do not realise this. Are you able to bring parents on your visits and introduce them to the Museum? Can you share information and memories about your visit so that they will feel confident to visit themselves with their children?

Need a hand?

Don’t forget that  our Early Years Coordinator is available to support your planning. Drop Elaine an email or call on 0161 306 1777 with any questions. We are also happy to meet you at the museum to plan your visit.

Can you help?

We are also looking for schools who want to pilot new activities as part of the development of the new early years learning programme from September 2019 onwards so let us know if you are interested in being contacted when opportunities arise.

Inside Out

What we’ve been up to recently …

hello future

A guest post from Amy, our Primary Learning Co-ordinator, about her recent work with primary pupils to bring the ‘working scientifically’ topic to life by exploring some of the different ways in which the Museum does this behind the scenes.

This year, thanks to the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Science and Engineering Widening Participation funding, we are running a scientific enquiry and communication project for local primary schools in partnership with our colleagues in SEERIH – the Science and Engineering Education Research and Innovation Hub. Through hands-on and unique explorations of the Museum’s inner workings – across departments ranging from Archaeology to Herpetology (frogs!), and Entomology (bugs!) to Collections Care – children have been discovering for themselves how these real-life environments work in a scientific way.

‘Working scientifically’ has been a core element of the Primary Science curriculum since 2014 and refers to: “Develop[ing] understanding of the nature, processes…

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Update 20 November – items are now all reserved, thanks for checking in!

You’ll have heard by now that Manchester Museum is embarking on a huge HLF-supported building and redevelopment project known as hello futureExcitingly, contractors have started some enabling works on-site, which you can follow via our project blog and twitter.

This means we’ve taken the opportunity for a HUGE clear-out of resources collected over a hundred years of Learning Programmes at the Museum.

We’ve got some stuff that we know we won’t be using during our reduced on-site programme during part-closure, and wanted to give local schools the opportunity to get their hands on some *free* learning resources!

Take a look below, and if you’d like to collect anything between 19 and 23 November, please email First come, first served!


A box of assorted clipboards (plastic and wood)


Set of 4 answer buzzers


Huge roll of corrugated cardboard … maybe for a display or craft corner?


5 green pin boards



2 x magnetic whiteboards


HUGE ancient Egypt timeline, created by an artist for our primary learning programmes


Dinosaur floor mat


Box of dressing up cothes, including ancient Egyptian collars


Box of assorted old coins. Great for creating an archaeological dig in your school garden!


TTS Easi-View visualiser (we think like this one


Early year light box furniture


Assorted replica African artefacts and musical instruments


Animal stamps and play doh!


Assorted children’s garden tools


Bits of model bones!


Felt and foam cylindrical cushions

Home Educating Families’ Afternoon at Manchester Museum, Thursday 6 December 2018: Investigating Nature

5/11/18: THIS EVENT IS NOW FULL. We received many more enquiries than expected for this event! If you have submitted an enquiry form we will be in touch before the end of November to confirm your place or whether we’ll need to add you to a wait list.

Please follow us on twitter @MM_Connects for details of the next event.


Explore the museum collections, meet experts, get your hands on real museum specimens and have fun with other families in this unique environment.


This is a pilot event as part of our HLF-funded ‘hello future’ building and redevelopment project, based on consultation with home educating families. The event will explore themes of extinction, adaptation and how we can all protect the natural world.

Activities will include:

– Object handling
– Curator Q&A
– Hands on activities
– Under 5s sensory play

Suitable for all ages. Sign in and registration 1-1.30pm. Activities until 4pm. Booking in advance by 29 November 2018 via this link is essential. Places are limited and the link will go down once we’re full!

As this is a pilot event, we are able to offer it *free of charge* in return for your comments and feedback, to help shape our future programmes.

Please note that adults will remain in supervisory capacity at all times for the children that they bring, and children must not be left unaccompanied; museum staff and volunteers are facilitators only.

Inside Out: Working Scientifically at the Museum

Primary schools in Manchester are invited to express their interest in the project here by Friday 2 November.

DSC_0424What is it?

Through first-hand and behind-the-scenes explorations of how the core elements of ‘working scientifically’ in the real-life setting of Manchester Museum, this project will place the role of science communicator into the hands of the children themselves. Pupils will author, storyboard – and some will star in and edit – short films demonstrating their scientific understanding, which will be showcased at the SEERIH Great Science Share in summer 2019.

Participating teachers will co-plan with project with other local education and science professionals, informed by training in the autumn term and supported by an advisory group including a Primary Science Teaching Trust Fellow, SEERIH and the Museum.

This is a great opportunity for an NQT or RQT looking to enhance their science teaching, or for a more experienced teacher looking to develop their practice beyond the classroom.

What are the benefits for my school?

Pupils will:

  • Develop their understanding of real-world ‘working scientifically’ and into careers in Science, Culture and Higher Education.
  • Learn how to storyboard and write dialogue for non-fiction films.
  • Gain an insight into the professional processes involved in

Teachers will:

  • Advance their pedagogical understanding of real-world ‘working scientifically’ through collaboration with a Primary Science Teaching Trust Fellow.
  • Develop digital literacy skills for teaching and learning, including how to teach storyboarding, scripting, and editing.
  • Connect and collaborate with education and science specialists from the University of Manchester and beyond.

Your school will:

  • Benefit from a fully-funded, unique, behind-the-scenes visit to Manchester Museum for pupils, and CPD for the project teacher.
  • Be credited as co-authors of films that will be available to Manchester Museum’s 30,000+ annual school visitors.
  • Receive priority bookings for the Great Science Share.
  • Engage with parents and other pupils by hosting a Science Week event showcasing the pupils’ work (with the option of doing this through the Inflatable Museum)
  • Receive a £250 bursary to cover some of the costs associated with the project.

Who is it for?

Primary schools in Manchester, particularly those in neighbouring Council wards to the University, are invited to express their interest in the project here by Friday 2 November. The project is aimed at Years 3-4 but interest from Year 5-6 will be considered. Between 6 and 32 pupils may take part per school, and we expect to be able to work with five different schools.

What does my school commit to?

  • Release for the lead teacher (as a minimum) on 19 November 2019 for a CPD and project planning day at the museum.
  • Some classroom activity led by your teachers (expected minimum 3 lessons – to be discussed at the CPD day)

Project timescales (draft)

19 November 2018: Teacher CPD and project planning (including a half day from SEERIH on ‘working scientifically’ in primary science, and interactive, behind-the-scenes activity at the museum)

January-February 2019: Discovery (Half) Days for pupils at the Museum

February-March 2019: Storyboarding and scripting in school

March 2019: Science Week

April-May 2019: Production days at the Museum

June 2019: Great Science Share Premier Event / Optional School Premier Events


For more information please contact Amy McDowall, Primary Learning Coordinator at Manchester Museum, on / 0161 275 7357.

Delving into Manchester’s Islamic Collections

Islamic Worlds

hello future

A guest blog from Amy McDowall, our Primary Learning Coordinator

Manchester Museum’s new South Asia gallery will touch on the many religions and faiths of modern and historic South Asia: Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Islam to name a few.

Many of the children living in communities local to the museum belong to one of these faiths, and this adds a really interesting dimension to our thoughts on how we would use the new gallery and the Museum’s collection to talk about both historic and modern religion.

It’s really important that we understand the importance of artefacts relating to religion and how to treat them respectfully. So when a teacher from St Margaret’s Primary in Whalley Range got in touch to ask if we could support her Year 6 pupils’ historical study of Early Islamic Civilisation, we jumped at the chance.

Together with the Jenny, the Ellerman-funded project curator who has…

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