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.

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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…

 

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RCUK-funded opportunities for researchers at the University’s cultural institutions

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‘Research speed-dating’

We are excited to announce that we’ve just recruited a new cohort of PhD demonstrators to deliver education sessions for secondary and post-16 students.

The recruitment and training programme for our new demonstrators is a flagship project within the University’s larger Research Councils UK (RCUK)-funded School-University Partnership Initiative (SUPI). This scheme aims to help University researchers to directly engage and inspire young people. Our flagship project couples researchers from across the University with the collections at our cultural institutions and libraries to bring current research to life in a powerful and unique manner.

Therefore, this time it’s not just the Museum’s science programme which will benefit, as we have taken this very successful way of working with PhD researchers and are embedding it at Whitworth Art Gallery, John Rylands Library and within Manchester Museum’s humanities programme. This means there will be some exciting new sessions to look out for in the spring term!

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Mystery object task

Each PhD demonstrator has been chosen specifically to use their current research knowledge and skills to enhance education sessions; meaning that school and college pupils will benefit from having their very own expert in the room.

To prepare the researchers for this new challenge we invited them to take part in a day long training programme. This included an introduction to cultural learning with a mystery object activity using specimens from the Museum’s collection. After lunch the demonstrators had a chance to explore the Museum’s galleries to identify ways of facilitating groups in unique out-of-the-classroom spaces.

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Rewording research summaries

We ended the day by doing a spot of ‘research speed-dating’ to give the researchers practice of communicating their complex current research. They had 90 seconds to explain their research to a partner using clear understandable language. After a little feedback, they moved on to a second ‘date’ with only 60 seconds to spare this time. Before perfecting their explanations in a lightning-fast 30 seconds final ‘date’.

Armed with a refined idea of how to explain their research the researchers revisited and reworded their own short tweet-style summaries of their specific area of research. Throughout the day these 140-character ‘research tweets’ were displayed as a physical twitter wall.

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Research summaries twitter wall

With new sessions in the pipeline we hope that you and your students have the chance to meet our new demonstrators very soon!

Below are our demonstrator’s tweet-style research summaries:

 

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Sam – Life for ordinary #Romans growing old.  What did they do?  How did they cope?  Also, with 2000 yrs between then and now, #howdoweknow?

Twitter_logo_blueKarlina – I am interested in the effect of climate change on fish physiology so I study the effect of temperature and oxygen on fish swimming

Twitter_logo_blueNaomi – My #research: What did artist #WilliamBlake say about #JesusChrist in his artworks; what influenced Blake & how new & unique were his ideas?

Twitter_logo_blueKonstantina – I’m looking at archaeological skeletons and analysing their DNA to discover if they are related

 Twitter_logo_blueEmma – Were changes in climate, sea level or temperature responsible for fossil jawless vertebrate evolution and demise? Or are fossilization filters warping what we see?

Twitter_logo_blueStephen – Farewell Fossil Fuels! Processes that limit biofuel production are now understood. We are closer to making biofuels from plants feasible.

Twitter_logo_blueEvgeny – Did you know that teeth can help to improve your vision? Now you know. #stemcells from teeth may be used to enhance regeneration of injured eye.

Twitter_logo_blueMary – How have words meaning ‘mad’ changed over time? Can linguistic metaphor demonstrate whether cognitive concepts for madness remain stable?

CTwitter_logo_blueelina – By observing structural colour in nature, my research aims to produce colour in textiles without using colourants

Twitter_logo_blueCatherine – Could mixing and matching of modern-day viruses unlock secrets of the distant past?

Twitter_logo_blueJennifer – To save and show old sunken wood in water… in a museum

New school year – thinking about a trip?

Somewhat unbelievably (at least we think so – the year is flying by!), it’s September and the start of another school year. We’ve been gearing up to the 2013-14 academic year with a refurbishment and refreshment of our school programme from Early Years to Post 16 and a new look to the Learning Pages on Manchester Museuslothm website: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/museum/learning . You’ll still find many of the ever popular sessions like Egyptian Worlds (KS2), Dinosaur Detectives (KS2), Forensic Science: A Bog Body Mystery (KS3/4 Science) and Citizen of the City (KS3 Citizenship) but also a few new ones and some like Dinosaur Challenge for KS1 pupils that are coming soon.

Do take a look and let us know what you think. If you are starting your planning for the year ahead then take a look at the website and see what takes your fancy for you and your class. If you need more information on anything then either email us at school.bookings@manchester.ac.uk or give us a call on 0161 275 2630 – we start taking bookings on 5th September.

We’re really looking forward to a jam packed year of school visits (there’s nothing we like more) and to seeing many of you and your classes in the Museum. That’s the programme spruced up – now just the office to go!

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.

Ancient Worlds and Current Programmes

Most of my time this month has been spent on reviewing our Secondary workshops in order to make the most of our upcoming Ancient Worlds development and the fantastic opportunities for Key Stage Three and Four students to engage with the collection here.  Topics to explore include Archaeology, Empire and Identity with the chance to develop student’s interpretation and enquiry skills as well as utilising critical thinking whilst investigating objects as direct evidence of the past.

The new galleries are going to give visitors a great overview of Archaeology and the contributions that our diverse collection of objects can make to our understanding of the past, in addition to analysing the different techniques used to explore this past. We’ve also got a spotlight on ancient Egypt as an Empire with a focus on examining the daily lives of specific individuals such as pyramid builders and will even include Asru, our temple priestess. There will be a very different approach to interpreting Egypt presented in this gallery, with the museum exploring how the ancient Egyptians themselves viewed their country and also how Egypt is an African civilisation influenced by surrounding cultures. The final gallery, upstairs, will be possibly the most visually stunning and potentially the most likely to adapt over the coming years: visible storage areas will be created, current research will be presented and themes will be explored in addition to object biographies to make sense of various parts of  the collection.

To follow the progress, or find out more, check out the Ancient Worlds blog for more details.

Right now, having worked through some of the workshops and identified the potential links for the Secondary sessions, I’m really excited about the possibilities and opportunities the Ancient Worlds galleries will present for students and their teachers. The galleries will, in conjuction with the other permenant exhibitions here at the Museum, engage students with their curriculum subjects and hopefully provide them with a memorable experience to help them learn about the past, the present and even influence their own future.

Early Years programmes

We are in the process of updating the early years page on our website and thought it would be useful to highlight our current programmes led by museum staff …

Sessions for Nursery and Reception
For up to 15 children (90 minutes)
£3.50 per child (minimum charge £50)

Animal Explorers – Polar Bear Polar Bear (New)

Polar Bear has a problem, some of his animal and bird friends have gone missing! Can you help him to find them? Come and explore our Living Worlds, bird gallery and vivarium as you embark on this exciting mission to find his missing friends.
At the end of the session there is an opportunity to meet one of our live animals from the vivarium!
You might be interested in looking at our Frog Blog

Dinosaur Explorers
Say hello to Stan the T.rex and become dinosaur hunters whilst following the footprints around the Fossils gallery. What will you uncover on our dinosaur dig?

Unearthed! Big Dig
Join us to explore the Unearthed : Ancient Egypt exhibition to find treasures of the Egyptian world! What exciting things will you discover?

For details of how to book, have a look at our early years page and information for teachers.
We are also able to book self programmed visits and offer resources for teachers.
To make a booking please ring our booking line on 0161 275 2630

GCSE and A-Level Geology workshops

During the past few months, we have seen a surge of interest in our GCSE and A-Level Geology offer.  It is great to see students fascinated by our specimens and engaging with museum experts, such as our Curator of Earth Sciences David Gelsthorpe. We have a selection of different geology workshops that can be tailored to meet the needs of specific groups, from Understanding and Interpreting Fossils, Trilobites and Exceptional Preservation.  For the full menu of session available, please see our website.  Workshops can also be supplemented with wow-factor fossil session and gallery tours as required. 

We have welcomed Altrincham Boys Grammar School, Aquinas College and Balshaw High School to the museum over the past few months.  Below are a few pictures of the workshops in action.  If you would like to book any of our Geology workshops, please do get in touch.

Alan Turing and Life’s Enigma Exhibition

Our latest exhibition ‘Alan Turing and Life’s Enigma’ opened at the end of March.   The exhibition coincides with 2012 Turing Centenary Year, celebrating 100 years since Turings birth. Alan Turing is known to most people as a mathematician and pioneer of computing, as well as being a significant part in the solving of the Enigma code at Bletchley Park during WW2.  However the main focus of this exhibition is his work relating to biology, specifically to his fascination of how pattern, shape and form appear in nature, in a process known as morphogenesis.  In 1952, Turing published this work in a paper (The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis) describing a model showing how these patterns could develop from the interactions of two chemicals. The new exhibition combines material used by Turing during his research time in Manchester with objects from the Museum’s extensive natural science collection.  The exhibition is in our 3rd floor exhibition space and runs until 18 November 2012.

As with all our exhibitions, we are developing a learning offer to allow students to explore further the ideas in the display.  Due to the high level content, we are planning a KS4 workshop and a series of Turing related A-Level Study Days, during the summer and autumn term.  Initial details of the workshops are below:

Maths/Science Turing workshop for KS4 – 2 hours, £75

This hands- on, interactive workshop will allow students to explore the scientific contribution of Alan Turings work.  Students will investigate how codes were used in early computing, the numerical patterns found in nature, and how it links to the Fibonacci sequence.  Though facilitated  learning on the new ‘Alan Turing and Life’s Enigma’ exhibition and getting up close to the museums collection, this session shows applications of maths to the natural world and cleverly links both science and maths curriculum.

Turing A-Level Study day, part of Engage with the Experts series (Full day) £150

Through a series of talks by University of Manchester Academics, hands – on activities and debates, your students will discover how their A-Level studies relates the last work of the famous scientist Alan Turing.  They will find out more about embryonic development, morphogenesis and pattern formation in living things and the Maths behind ‘Patterns in Nature’. 

We will be offering a few sessions free of charge during the trial phase (May/June/July), so if you are interested in this offer, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

You can get involved with your own Turing experiment, by growing a Turing Sunflower

Planet Dinosaur

From 1st to 9th October, a herd of 6 spinosaurus’ took residence in our Living Worlds gallery as part of the BBC’s Planet Dinosaur tour.  To make the most of this opportunity, we developed an associated workshop for KS3 students which over 175 students took part in last week. 

The Curator of Earth Sciences, David Gelsthorpe and myself devised two additional workshops which complement the BBC’s ‘Build their own spinosaurus’ activity that utilised parts of our palaeontology collection.  In the workshop, students became paleontologists and investigated real fossils deciding out of 6 different specimens which one was a real dinosaur egg and which one was a real dinosaur bone.  In addition, students measured and analysed a trackway of dinosaur footprints to figure out what it told us about dinosaur behavior.  This workshop enabled students to get hands on with the fantastic objects from our collection and find out more about the research work that paleontologists do within the university. 

Since the spinosaurus are no longer with us, they have continued on their journey round the country up to Newcastle, we are going to continue to offer the Dinosaur Footprint and Paleontology skills making a 1 hour investigative dinosaur based workshop.  Please get in touch if you would like to book it.

Summer progress

The summer break is officially here and well underway. As a learning team we are concentrating on redeveloping some of our programme to ensure teachers and students get the best possible experience during their visit here at the Museum next year. This new look programme will be launched in September 2011. 

Creative Work in progress for the Museum's Learning Team

It will contain updated and improved versions of existing popular workshops as well as some new additions – not least an exciting Primary session to accompany our new Egypt exhibition: Unearthed during the redevelopment of our Egypt and Archeaology galleries.

The programme will take the best features of our sessions, such as object based enquiry skills, practical science investigation, hands-on exploration of history and the use of our amazing collection in an innovative and exciting way to ensure that students continue to be engaged and inspired by their visit to The Manchester Museum. 

Keep up to date with these changes by checking back periodically: as we will be updating the blog with our ideas, progress and upcoming offer over the course of the summer. We can’t wait for the new term ro start!