William Hulme’s Grammar School visit during Science Week

Image, Andrew Gray and a panther chameleon

Back in November, John Thomson, a science teacher from the local school William Hulme’s Grammar School – a ULT Academy contacted me to see if we could provide something really special for his year 7 year group during National Science Week.

We came up with an exciting programme of workshops, including a talk from our Curator of Herpetology Andrew Gray, Clippy Island: An investigation into Natural Selection workshop and Adapt! our OOKL mobile phone interactive gallery tour.  John decided to apply for funding from the British Science Association for the visit and we were delighted to find out a few weeks later that his application had been successful which enabled us to go full steam ahead planning this bespoke Science day.

Image, Spiny tail lizard

The challenge on our part was the logistics of the visit. 120 students is a lot to have in one day, but we managed to put together a timetable where 60 students would visit for the morning and 60 in the afternoon with them all managing to participate in all activities.  So on Thursday 18th March, we were ready to welcome William Hulme’s Grammar School to The Manchester Museum.

Image, Red Eyed Tree Frog

Andrew was first up and his talk to the whole group was fascinating.  He talked about his background and how his interest in frogs and reptiles stemmed from an early age.  Andrew explained the variety of methods scientists (like himself) use to research the animals and why scientific research is so important. Andrew also covered what measures are being taken by scientists to try and conserve the habitat to prevent the animals becoming extinct. And of course he has his trump card – the live animals!

Andrew showed the students some of the Live Animal collection in the museum such as male panther chameleon, an African python, a spiny tailed lizard and beautiful brightly coloured tree frog with Andrew describing the interesting and distinguishing features of each animal, including their adaptations to their environment. The students had the rare opportunity to see these amazing animals at really close quarters which they were really excited about.  The animals did a great job too and were surprisingly calm when posing behind a sea of mobile phone cameras.

Image, Clippy Island in Action

The 60 students were then split into two groups and they took part in 2 separate activities, Adapt! and Clippy Island.  Adapt! uses OOKL mobile phone technology, and students followed an interactive trail around the Animal and bird life galleries and discovered the features and variation that lead to adaptation.  In the Clippy Island: An Investigation into Natural Selection workshop, the students became a population of birds called ‘Springbeaks’ and experienced feeding over several seasons.  They saw first hand how adaptations created by natural variations within a species can enable a population to change over time.  The two groups swapped activities after completing them, so everybody took part in all activities.  The students were then transported back to school and the next 60 students arrived in the afternoon to follow the same format.

Image, Students on the Mammals Gallery

John’s vision was that the visit was cross curricular and lead onto the students using the visit as a basis to study a variety of topics in a variety of subject for example, looking at Costa Rica in geography, drawing/painting the animals they have seen in art, investigating methods of conservation and research in science, producing creative writing pieces about animals in English and data analysis of populations etc in numeracy. As well as the students getting an exciting and stimulating visit that they will remember.   I hope that it proved to be a success on his part.  Overall we really enjoyed hosting William Hulme’s Grammar School on this special Science day during National Science Week– it was a very hectic day, and we hope that the students visit us again sometime in the future.

Here are some examples of the student’s reviews they wrote of the trip back at school – judge for yourself as to whether they enjoyed the visit.

If you would like to give your students something different and engage then in an exciting day out that they will remember, do contact us and we would love to talk about what we can do for your students.


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