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

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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!]

After the Bees: Post-apocolyptic Games Design

We were really proud to work with Preston College again this year, with further development on the brief for the BTEC Level 3 Games Development module. Their tutor, Chris, worked up this fantastic scenario for them (see below) and all the students visited the Museum in November to gather research and preliminary sketches.

Project Brief
A games developer has an idea for a post-apocalyptic game, set 100 years in the future – taking cues from games such as ‘The Last of Us’. The developer is working from a story based around the global extinction of bees and the hugely negative impact this could have on humanity.

Students are required to come up with three designs, which explore different story possibilities:

1) Design for an autonomous machine that pollinates flowers, taking over the job that the bees previously had
Image to be produced as a digital Photoshop painting.

2) Costume/character design – another direction the story may take is that the extinct bee population will be replaced with a much more aggressive species that can withstand mites and changes in climate. Unfortunately, they also kill indiscriminately to claim more territory and multiply at an alarming rate. As the governments are reeling from the financial meltdown caused by the collapse of the farming industry, only the very rich and privileged can afford protection from these killers. You must produce a costume/suit that keeps the bees from doing harm to the wearer, but also acts as a desirable status symbol.
Image to be produced in pen and ink.

3) Design for shady black-market area – As plants and crops cannot be pollinated, many ‘luxuries’ are now a rarity. The developer would like to see an illegal market, with store people selling coffee and fruit, amongst the poor surroundings.
Image to be produced in Pencil/charcoal, with emphasis on atmosphere.

The students had two months to develop their Project pieces and then, on 23rd January they returned to the Museum to present their final work. Listening to their presentations were Megan Powell – Artist behind Manchester Museum’s After the Bees exhibition; Cat Lumb – Secondary and Post-16 Humanities & Arts Co-ordinator; Leila Nicholson – bee expert from Manchester Metropolitan Univeristy; and Eve Bokor – a placement student with the Learning Team from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Here’s what Megan had to say about the students’ work:

“The students from Preston College presented an impressive project about bees, each created a world that was both imaginative and practically considered. It was evident that each student had extensively researched the bees and I was particularly inspired by the highly creative ‘pollinating machine’ designs.”

We were all really impressed by the thought that went into the game elements and how confidently the students presented their ideas on the day. It was fantastic to see the brief come to life in their work and every student demonstrated a creative angle of their own.

Take a look at the work they produced below:

Pollination Machines

 

Costume/Character Design

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Black Market Area

Spectacular Science: Manchester Museum Takeover!

Free event on Saturday, 29 October 2016 (10am-4pm) at the Manchester Museum

sci-spec-bThe University of Manchester will be running its Spectacular Science event on Saturday 29th October, offering a fun-filled family day of science challenges, live experiments, and hands-on demonstrations to delight children and adults alike.

Help us create a superhero, become a cell explorer, or build a world of fungus. Investigate our universe, make a mini robot dance, explore new wonder materials, and much, much more.

At the same time, our science buskers will be lining Oxford Road dishing out dazzling displays of scientific wizardry. So bring your mum and dad, your kids, and your friends to this free event.

Sheena Cruickshank, University of Manchester’s Academic Lead for Public Engagement with Research said: “this award winning event is a treasure of delights showcasing the variety of amazing and excellent science at The University of Manchester.”

What you have said:

“The whole event was such good fun and the hands on stuff was great. We all want to be scientists now!”

“I left having really enjoyed the day. I would definitely recommend others taking part.”

 

Manchester has a proud history of scientific discovery and by coming to the Science Spectacular you’ll be able to make some discoveries of your own!

So come on down to the Manchester Museum for some Spectacular Science!

Further information:

See our 2015 video

This event is part of the Manchester Science Festival (MSF). Part laboratory, part playground, MSF is a showcase for the most creative, surprising and hands-on science for people of all ages.

Half Term Activities at Manchester Museum

img_3226Join us at Manchester Museum for lots of family friendly fun this half term.

 

October is an exciting month across the City with lots of family friendly events as part of Manchester Science Festival and the Family Arts Festival.

 

When the half term holidays arrive, the learning opportunities continue at Manchester Museum.  October half term is the perfect opportunity to visit and delve into the many hands on, fun and awe inspiring activities that we have taking place.

 

All week long you can drop in between 11am-4pm and create a print inspired by the objects you can see in our new ‘Extinct or Survival?’ exhibition which opened on Friday 21st October.

 

Discover more about the Solar System, speak to experts and see objects from space, on Tuesday 25th October with students and colleagues from the University of Manchester at the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Solar System’ event.

 

 

On Thursday 27th October we will be joined by Stanley Grove’s Creative Crew who will be encouraging our family visitors to join in with their Big Draw project and create paper moths to share or keep and treasure.

 

Don’t miss our ‘Science Spectacular’ event on Saturday 29th October for a fun filled day of science challenges, live experiments, and interactive demonstrations and much, much more.

I Spy Nature at Manchester Museum

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During the summer holidays we were able to run an additional programme for under 5’s and their families (alongside our core family programme) with funding from The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust . This allowed us to offer FREE  drop–in activities and  small group bookable activities both inside the Museum and outside on The Museum Allotment.

We had already raised this funding for the development of a Nature Discovery garden, to sit alongside our Nature Discovery gallery. This will now be developed as part of our major capital redevelopment at the museum over the next few years, during which time we will have a new South Asia gallery and a new temporary exhibition gallery.

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We worked in partnership with Hulme Community Garden Centre, RSPB, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Groundwork, Barrow-in-Furness Owl Sanctuary, 24/7 Theatre Company and De Capo Duo to pilot new practice which will inform future developments at the Museum. This…

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A Placement Hello

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Me saying hello to Stan the T-Rex

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

Hello, my name is Luke and I’ve just started my placement year with the Learning Team at the Museum. When I am not on my placement year I study Animal Behaviour at Manchester Metropolitan University, which believe me is more than watching cat videos. Having just finished my second year I thought it would be a great time to go on placement and get experience in the real world.

I have been really looking forward to starting this placement and now that I am here, I haven’t been  disappointed. So I thought I would share with you my top 3 favourite things about the Museum from my first week of working here.

The fact that I’ve learnt a lot about ancient Egypt has been great. This is from being an extra pair of hands during the Egyptian Worlds primary school session, which was on the second day of term! I wish my school did field trips that early after school started. I was especially jealous of the children as I never got to study ancient Egypt at school, let alone go to a museum and have a private lesson on it! It was obivious from how much the children enjoyed it that I clearly missed out of something.

The Vivarium has to be my favourite place in the Museum so far, as it is home to the Museum’s live animals! I will say I spent too much time in there on my first day just looking at all the different animals. My personal favourite (at the moment) is the Golden poison dart frog, as they are so beautiful but also so dangerous.

Lastly my third favourite thing about the Museum is that I get to work in a place full of passionate people and I get to help to educate and inspire people who are younger then me to take up science and history and discover all the amazing things that both science and history have to offer.

That is all I can fit in to one blog post, but this won’t be the last you will hear from me as I am at the Museum for the next 9 months. So don’t worry you will get an update on how I am getting on throughout the year.

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The baby sperm whale wishing me luck

 

Creating a School-Museum Comic

During the end of the Summer Term we were delighted to work with Cedar Mount Academy on a HEFCE National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) Funded project. This funding allowed us to engage with a new, external partner to work with. We decided to embed the project within the Literacy framework by teaching pupils about story structure so we approached The Society of Authors Children and Illustrators Group who were able to recommend one of their amazing Writers and Illustrators: Shoo Rayner.

Cedar Mount w Shoo

Shoo Rayner sharing a story with Cedar Mount pupils

Shoo has written and illustrated hundreds of children’s books and when we told him that we wanted to create a collaborative pupil-led comic  strip he was more than up for the challenge. With Shoo on board we then organised a planning day with Cedar Mount Academy’s tutors to decide on how best to prepare the chosen pupils for their task.

It was important for us to try and find a technique of sharing the basics of story structure across multiple levels, as we wanted to involve a cross section of pupils from the whole of Year 7. This is because one of our legacy aims is to create a teacher resource to demonstrate how this approach could be utilised in the classroom, using museum collections as a prompt.

With 20 pupils identified we spent a day planning an action-packed visit to the Museum that would see them learn about story structure (using Romeo & Juliet and Harry Potter as examples), explore the collection, choose potential characters for their stories and, finally, work closely with Shoo to produce two short comic strip stories that he could then illustrate over the summer.

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Cedar Mount Academy pupils with Stan the T-Rex

The pupils visited the Museum on Friday 8th July and had a lot of fun coming up with a whole series of fantastic ideas for what our Museum specimens could get up to! To say they only spent four hours with us they were brilliantly creative and having Shoo facilitate their ideas in preparation to illustrate them was a great motivator. As a thank you for all their hard work each pupil was gifted a book to read over the summer to encourage them to read outside of school.

The final illustrated stories will be printed up and create a pocket-sized comic that we hope to share with other school children that visit the Museum in 2016. In September we’ll also be asking the pupils about the stories in the books they were gifted in the hopes that learning about story structure has given them a means to summarise stories and potentially given them a scaffold to create their own stories too.

Watch this space for our reveal of the final comic book!
In the meantime, have a look at this video from Shoo’s YouTube page to hear more about the project and see one of the stories he’s been working on…

 

The Inflatable Museum pops up in Manchester Cathedral for Tiny Science

Earlier this week the Inflatable Museum popped up in Manchester Cathedral for Tiny Science, a citywide festival specifically designed to help young children get involved in Manchester’s European City of Science celebrations.

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One of the joys of working with the Inflatable Museum is seeing it spring up in so many weird and wonderful locations, and the Cathedral provided a stunning environment to set up in for the day. It was so nice to see so many children and families head down to explore and get hands-on with our collection, and it was an amazing start to our I Spy Nature summer activity programme. From our brand new Wildlife Wednesdays, to our much loved Magic Carpet story making sessions, there’s so much to get involved with in the Museum over the next couple of months. Head to our website for more information about everything that’s going on.

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