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


Science-related residential summer school opportunity for AS students

Green_Vs_Polluted_CityInterested in how we can create a more sustainable future? Brilliant chance for AS level students to be part of our first ever residential Sustainability Summer School here at Manchester Museum. Bringing objects, technology and innovation together. Supported by the NWBLT, as part of our Lever Prize 2015 year. Find more info and how to apply here.

Lever Prize winners 2015

“Fantastic. Exactly what the students wanted” – Teacher feedback

We are thrilled to announce that Manchester Museum has won the prestigious Lever Prize 2015, for our Real Life Science programme. So we are eagerly  getting started with the plans for this year’s developments.

The Lever Prize is judged by the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) in partnership with Arts & Business. As the 2015 winners, the Real Life Science programme will receive a generous contribution of £10,000 and the opportunity to collaborate with some of the region’s most influential business leaders.

Museum specimen

“It was good to have the experts talk to us about their work” – Student feedback

Our successful Real Life Science programme encourages secondary and post-16 students to develop practical investigative skills through an array of science workshops, supported by Manchester Museum’s collection and displays. Currently we have strong links with academic research, with all of our workshops being delivered by scientists from across The University of Manchester. We are excited to work with the NWBLT to enhance this programme by incorporating cutting-edge applications of science in industry.

“Our demonstrator was very knowledgeable and delivered an excellent session” – Teacher feedback

In addition to enhancing existing sessions, we hope to introduce new innovative sessions based on real life industry examples, including topics such as:

Biomimicry – Engineering and science innovations inspired by nature

Sustainability –  Current issues challenging industry, modern solutions and eco-design 

We are very much looking forward to a productive year working with the NWBLT. So keep an eye out for updates on our progress and new opportunities during the year!

Research in Action: Burying the Middens

Some of the Midden Students with Cat and Sam from the Museum

Some of the Midden students with Cat and Sam from the Museum

On Friday 8th November Year 9 students from Matthew Moss High School invovled in our Midden Project created their own ‘archaeological rubbish heaps’ on school grounds. Our Senior Conservator, Sam Sportun, and I went into school to help them create their own middens. They had chosen four different materials for their middens to be made from: gravel, sand, compost and mulch. These were chosen to represent various environments and to vary the results that the students will get from their chosen objects.

Each student had identified at least one object that they were placing in one of the four middens. Before depositing them they each made a visual record of their object through drawings, took a photograph and hypothesised about what might happen to each object based on the material of both the object itself and the midden it was to be placed within.

Matthew Moss' budding photographer recording the creation of the middens for the school record.

Matthew Moss’ budding photographer recording the creation of the middens for the school record.

There were discussions about what might happen differently in each of the middens – how the mulch would be decomposing itself and thus provide heat and how the gravel would allow rain to seep through. In addition, students questioned how their own objects might change over the course of their time in the midden (around 6-8months) and theorised what might happen to each substance their objects were made from.

I think the students would all agree that the best part of the session was actually burying their objects in the middens themselves. Over the next few months we’ll be investigating in more detail what happens to objects underground using the Museum’s archaeological collection and updating the students’ hypotheses in anticipation of excavating their middens in 2014!

Exciting opportunity for University of Manchester PhD students at our cultural venues

Manchester Museum, Whitworth Art Gallery and John Rylands Library are looking to recruit first or second year PhD students to deliver educational sessions for their respective secondary and post-16 programmes. The aim is to utilise PhD student’s expert knowledge to enrich the student experience for our formal school and college visitors.

This will be a paid position for the delivery of education sessions (which includes set-up and clear-away time where applicable). Delivery of sessions will be on a casual basis depending on demand. Demonstrators will receive full training in communication, facilitation and session specific skills before being requested to deliver any sessions. Further details of roles, responsibilities and payment will be given on enquiry.

Interested applicants at all venues should:

  • Be able to speak enthusiastically about their subject
  • Be able to communicate complex concepts in an approachable and engaging manner
  • Be interested in inspiring pupils to explore further study
  • Have excellent communication skills, preferably with experience of presenting to secondary or college students
  • Be organised, self-motivated, reliable and keen to work with groups of up to 30 secondary or A-level students
  • Be flexible and able to commit to dates up to one month in advance
  • Have some teaching experience (not essential)

Interested applicants for the Manchester Museum Science Programme should:

  • Be studying a Science subject at PhD level
  • Have a strong subject and practical knowledge in either genetics, molecular biology, evolutionary biology, biodiversity, climate change, geology, earth sciences, photon physics or a similar subject area (only one needed)
  • Have a passion for museum collections or be excited to work with them

Interested applicants for the Whitworth Art Gallery Programme should:

  • Be studying a Science subject at PhD level (ideally zoology or similar)
  • Have an interest and knowledge of animal anatomy and behaviour
  • Be excited to work with an art demonstrator in an art gallery/museum setting


  • Be studying an Art subject at PhD level
  • Have experience in leading observational drawing
  • Be excited to work with a science demonstrator in an art gallery/museum setting

Interested applicants for the Manchester Museum Humanities Programme should:

  • Be studying Classics and Ancient History at PhD level
  • Have an interest and knowledge of Ancient Civilisations, particularly Greek and/or Roman
  • Have a passion for museum collections or be excited to work with them

Interested applicants for the John Rylands Library Programme should:

  • Be studying an English subject at PhD level (ideally English Language)
  • Ideally have an interest and knowledge of English language change from manuscripts, through printing and ‘modern’ changes, (opportunities to develop this further)
  • Have a passion for library collections, be already using the John Rylands collection for research (not essential) or be excited to work with them

Please apply by CV and cover letter (stating which venue’s programme you wish to be considered for and why), and send to Emily Robinson ( by Tuesday 26th November 2013. If you are unsure whether you are eligible for one of the above roles please contact Emily Robinson by phone on 0161 306 1764.

Commence Midden 2013: Research in Action

You might remember last year we did a pilot project with Matthew Moss High School whereupon students from the school built their own Midden to investigate what happens to material when they are buried, like archaeological objects.

We are fortunate enough that Matthew Moss chose to work with us again and have commissioned the Museum to run the project this year as part of  Year 9 students’ Project Qualification. Therefore, on Friday 20th September, sixteen eager Year 9 students visited the Museum to begin the Midden Project 2013.

They explored the analysis of archaeological objects and determined the most significant questions to ask about artefacts in order to examine it’s use. Then they had a tour of our conservation labs to encourage them to think of what happens to objects once they’ve been excavated.

Last week they had to identify potential objects for their own Middens that would relate to their individual project topics. These are the materials they will bury in the four created Middens that will be located at their school. They will be buried for approximately six months, and in that time students will be researching their topics and hypothesising how their objects might change over the course of being in the Midden.

We’ll be updating you on the progress of the Project througout the year, so keep checking in to see how the students are getting on.

If you want to know more about the project, or think that your school might be interested in setting up its own Midden contact: Cat Lumb

Evaluation Consultant Needed for HLF Funded Ancient Worlds Galleries

8158058348_5b8802721f 8157991179_5ea633f483 Ancient Worlds GalleriesManchester Museum is seeking an Evaluation Consultant to devise and implement a robust evaluation strategy to measure the impact of the Museum’s recent Ancient Worlds Galleries redevelopment. Ancient Worlds transformed the displays in three of the Museum’s galleries which are dedicated to archaeology and ancient Egypt. Opened in October 2012, at a cost of c. £1.5 million, the project has been funded with the support of several key external funders, including a significant grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We now require an evaluation expert to assist us in assessing the extent to which we have met our original objectives for the redevelopment and in measuring the impact of the project upon the Museum’s diverse audiences. In addition to focusing upon the new galleries themselves, the evaluation process will also encompass the associated Activity Plan of events (public programmes, learning sessions, community engagement initiatives, etc.) which have taken place in these spaces since they reopened.

You can find more details here: Ancient Worlds Evaluation Consultant Brief

The successful applicant would be required to start around w/c 14th October 2013 and the full external evaluation report would need to be produced and submitted to the Museum by 16th December 2013.

The Midden Project: Research In Action

On Monday 15th July the Manchester Museum was pleased to welcome one-hundred and forty six Year 8 Matthew Moss High School students to take part in an Archaeology Enrichment Day.

The day was planned to introduce the new partnership between the Museum and Matthew Moss on our Midden Project: Research in Action.

Creating the Midden 2

Last year’s Midden creation

You may recall that we did a similar project with eight of their school students last year. Well, Matthew Moss were so pleased with the benefits that the project had for those involved that they have partnered up with us again to deliver a more structured programme on the same topic.

In the 2013-14 academic year the Museum will support a number of Matthew Moss students on their Level 2 Project Qualification by helping them create and investigate their own Midden (the name for an archaeological rubbish dump). Students who want to work with the Museum will self-select and apply to be a part of the Midden Project: Research in Action throughout Year 9.

The Enrichment Day, which was packed full of activities to introduce students to some of the skills and ideas behind the project, gave them a taste of what they might get involved in during their Project, thereby helping those who were interested decide to apply for the partnership work as part of their Project qualification.

It was a fantastic day with a selection of nine different activities that smaller groups of students could carousel around. These included:

  • A session with the Museum’s Conservation team examining how we preserve artefacts from the past
  • Practical activities about the Science behind conservation looking at the effects of salt, detergents and glues on objects
  • A workshop on ancient Egypt and the unique environment that allowed survival of some fascinating historic artefacts led by our British Museum Curator Intern
  • On-gallery sessions with our team of freelancers about what items from the past can tell us, how fossils are formed and the invaluable role minerals form in our daily lives

We also provided supporting resources for the Group Leaders to deliver activities on other galleries and encourage their students to explore the Museum’s collection in meaningful ways. Check out the photographs below to see a selection of the students enaged inactivities on the day!

All in all I think it was a great start to the partnership and demonstrated a flavour of what the project could be to the students of Matthew Moss High School. We’re really excited to be a part of this partnership and looking forward to starting the project proper in September by creating some more Middens.

Look out for more updates about our Midden Project: Research in Action, coming soon…

A visit to Baby Lab

What a great post on about the Partnership on A visit to Baby Lab, where babies are the ideal visitor.

“Even though babies cannot tell us how they see things or what they are thinking, infant researchers have come up with ways of finding this out. If babies look at one thing more than another (‘preferential looking’) then we know that they must be able to tell the difference between these two things. If babies look at something new longer than something they have seen before (‘novelty preference’), then we know that they can tell the difference between the familiar and the new thing.”

To view the full article go here:

Poll results

Results of the poll that I posted last month are below. As you can see, they are rather inconclusive (interesting nonetheless!).

why take a class to visit a museum

Note: The following responses were entered as ‘other’:

  • Inspiring staff, chance to share experiences and stories, bringing subject matter to the real world/ life connections, gaining empathy, enquiry and new experiences, creativity, museums aim to be fun, welcoming and enjoyed by all
  • To show them that the museum can be for them, and have something to offer them.
  • A comment that I’ve had from teachers is about relative sizes of things. e.g. how a sparrow is smaller than a crow – not obvious from watching a film or even from observing live birds as they move about & are at a distance.
  • It’s a good way to build relationships with students in a different environment.
  • Bringing the past to life – cliché but true. A shop with items from 50p upwards. What they choose might make them think about a return family visit.
  • Artefacts visually bring to life the learning & can introduce/ demonstrate so much more than a terms worth of lessons (I’m specifically thinking of Ancient Egypt & the British Museum).
  • Knowledge that the teachers don’t have or can obtain easily.
  • I work in an area of high unemployment and the chances of our children visiting a real museum without us taking them are quite slim so sometimes we try to find one that compliments our learning.
  • I take students to the museum which reflect aspects of our specification at A level. – Dinosaurs/strat/local geology etc. Also primary children for the wow factor
  • Handling real objects. Learning in a way that cannot be achieved in the classroom.

However, and as the responses to the ‘What is your role?’ question illustrate, only 7 teachers participated in the poll.

What is your role

This is not surprising, particularly considering my rather unscientific approach and the limited period over which the poll was open! I do intend to recirculate this poll again (or some version thereof) but I would really appreciate any suggestions regarding the matter of targeting teachers.