Evolution Solutions: Primary Science CPD event at Manchester Museum

stoatCalling all primary science teachers! 

Evolution and inheritance will be entering the primary science curriculum for the first time in September 2014. Join us for a day of inspiring hands-on activities, talks and ideas for teaching evolution in your classroom. This CPD event aims to:

  • Equip teachers with the skills and knowledge that they will need to teach evolution in the primary classroom with confidence
  • Provide teachers with ideas for hands on activities and resources, both in and beyond the museum
  • Generate a digital resource that compiles the activities included in the Manchester and Oxford CPD events, along with useful resources and links

animalWhen: Thursday 21st November 2013

Where: Manchester Museum

How much: £50 per person, including lunch

Bookings: If you would like to book a place, please email: school.bookings@manchester.ac.uk.

Queries: For enquiries or further details, please contact: Hannah-lee.chalk@manchester.ac.uk / Emily.robinson@manchester.ac.uk

Download the CPD flier (pdf)


Guest Post: An Interesting Week at Manchester Museum

A guest post, written by Candice Kossowska who spent a week working on gallery resources for the primary learning team. Many thanks to Candice for all of her hard work, and keep an eye out for her resources, which will be available on the website very soon…

New Picture (24)1I am just embarking on my final year of the Primary Education Degree course, at Edge Hill University. I have spent a lot of time in primary schools, but I really wanted to experience how different learning can be, in an alternative educational setting. Manchester Museum certainly was different to my previous experiences!

The teaching team at the museum offer so many opportunities for children to engage with, by actually being able to explore and even touch real artefacts. I was able to observe many sessions, which included the Egyptian Worlds session – where children find out about the museum’s mummified Egyptian Chantress, Asru. The Dinosaur Detectives session, in which children use their knowledge of carnivores and herbivores, to solve a dinosaur murder mystery. The Dig Stories archaeology session, in which pupils use tools to excavate real archaeological finds! I was also able to experience how younger children including babies, can learn from and engage with the museum, during the fantastic Magic Carpet sessions – during which the team work so hard to captivate young minds!

While at the museum I was given my very own task – something I felt privileged to be asked to do – to plan some self-guided tour sessions using my own ideas! Of course you would think this would be an easy task, as there are so many amazing exhibits. However, because there are so many it’s hard to decide which ones to include within a session, for primary aged children.New Picture (26)

Therefore I explored all the galleries in the museum and read the background stories for many exhibits. I selected a number of exhibits and was able to create three educational gallery tours, which tie in nicely with the new National Curriculum. After much thought, I planned a number of different resources.

One resource uses the Living Cultures and Living Worlds galleries to give children the opportunity to find out about different cultural symbols, and how different cultures attach particular meanings to different animals. Another of my gallery tours will enable children in Key Stage 1 and 2 to find out about the environmental challenges that face some of our most endangered species – and even write their own lonely hearts column for an endangered animal.

New Picture (23)In the Natures Library exhibition, children will be introduced to the unusual collecting habits of the Victorians. Children will conjure up their own background story for a number of strange exhibits, including a Narwhal’s tusk, also known as the Unicorn Horn of Manchester Museum!


I enjoyed my week at the museum immensely. I have learned a great deal from exploring the different galleries and exhibits. I was able to ask lots of questions of the museum guides, and discovered interesting and sometimes almost unbelievable stories behind many exhibits!

Blog posts from visiting schools

Its always great when you get a good feedback form from a teacher, you know that the pupils enjoyed themselves and that you have in some way contributed towards their learning.

Its even nicer when you come across websites or blogs where people write about their visits.  Below are a few I’ve stumbled upon the last few weeks, but if you do write a blog post or post something to your school website, please do let us know.

Here is a lovely post from Charlestown Primary School about their visit to study Egyptians. There are some super images of their trip and some of the objects they were able to handle, plus they link to some of the digitial information they have found about the topics they are working on in school.

Its not just primary schools who blog about us on their websites, here is a great post from Saint Paul’s catholic High School about their visit facilitated by Cat from the learning team.

Sometimes its not the pupils blogging, but one of the accompanying adults, like Lucy Harvey’s blog post about her recent trip the Museum with some Year 8’s to see Darwin.  The section about the trip is towards the bottom of the blog post.

Finally, here is a bit of an older post (from 2007) from The Queen’s Lower School about their visit to do Dinosaurs and one last one from The Deans Primary visit to look at Egyptians.

No room at the inn?

Image, Students in our LifeLab

There’s a fantastic buzz in the museum’s galleries during term time. Children and young people of all ages and abilities are busy exploring the displays and developing their skills of inquiry and analysis. School groups are carefully coordinated by the Learning Team to ensure the best possible experience for every child.

The timetable is organised to provide each group with enough room for an enjoyable and meaningful visit. A quick glance at the website will tell you that we offer guided visits and workshops on a wide range of subjects for the whole age range, from Early Years to post-16. To be fair to everyone this inevitably means that spaces and time slots have to be rationed. We recommend that teachers plan as far ahead as possible and book the visit early to avoid disappointment but, like any other popular service or facility, we sometimes find ourselves in the situation where we can’t offer the dates and times when people would like to book a visit to the museum. We hate to turn schools away but when the timetable is full adding more groups would compromise the quality of experience for everyone.

Image, Students being taught on the Pre-historic Life Gallery

So what’s a teacher to do when the museum says it’s full? There is an answer. Over the past six or seven years museums and galleries around the country have been boosting the quality of the service to schools with the help of Renaissance in the Regions, a government-funded programme of staff training, collections development and improvements to facilities.

The Manchester Museum is part of the ‘Northwest Hub’ – a group of institutions dedicated to sharing good practice and professional development. The region’s museums and galleries are tuned in to the changing curriculum and develop programmes in partnership with teachers and pupils. Of course each museum or gallery has different collections and teachers want their students to see particular objects – you wouldn’t expect to study the ancient Egyptians in a science museum or vice versa (although cross-disciplinary learning is exactly where museums and galleries excel so I wouldn’t discount the idea!). One result of Renaissance in the Regions is that we can now consistently offer high quality alternatives for learning in most subject areas across the wider group of museums and galleries. Teachers looking for a relevant, engaging and productive cultural experience now have a better choice than ever, which is why we are happy to recommend our colleagues in other venues if we are unable to accommodate a group at The Manchester Museum.

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.

New Resources

Image, Rocks Revealed Front page

Hi Everyone,

it’s been a busy time but I’m pleased to be able to report that we have some new additions to our resources for teachers. As mentioned by Neil, the new ‘Myths and Monsters’ literacy-based self-guide resource for KS2 pupils is now ready. In addition to this self-guide resource, we also have a new teacher resource pack for the ‘Rocks Revealed’ Discovery session for those who have booked our KS2 Museum session and a spruced up version of the ‘Dinosaur Detective’ pack.

We also have a new ‘Charles Darwin: evolution of a scientist’ KS4 and 5 self guided resource that highlights important themes and facts to help you explore and make the most of our current ‘Charles Darwin: evolution of a scientist’ exhibition.

All of these resources can be found on the Resources page of our website.

Myths and Monsters… live!

You may remember that, back in October, I mentioned our new ‘Myths and Monsters’ resource that we’ve been developing.

‘Myths and Monsters’ is a literacy-based self-guide resource. It was originally designed for classes who have taken part in our popular ‘Travellers and Traders’ session and would to continue the Ancient Greek theme through the rest of their visit, but has already proved popular with teachers of classes visiting for other taught sessions.

Image, Odysseus and the sirens

The resource was designed with the Literacy Framework in mind and hence it can be used to support Year 3 narrative unit 2 ‘Myths and legends’ and year 5 narrative unit 2 ‘Traditional stories, fables, myths, legends’, although we encourage teachers to use and adapt it as they need.

‘Myths and Monsters’ is now live on the resources page of our website.

More teacher resources!

Teachers bringing groups to the Museum to take part in our fantastic TSI:Time Scene Investigation session (when else do you get to have a free pre-visit, engage in debate, do some maths *and* dig in the sand?) will be pleased to know that the teacher pack for this session is now online on our resources page.

Image, cover of TSI teacher resource pack

Image, cover of TSI teacher resource pack

Darwin Preview Evening

Image, A teacher exploring our new tempory exhibition 'Charles Darwin: evolution of a scientist'

Image, A teacher exploring our new temporary exhibition 'Charles Darwin: evolution of a scientist'

On the evening of Oct 21st, we welcomed teachers and tutors from local schools and colleges to a special preview evening of our new exhibition ‘Charles Darwin: evolution of a scientist’.

We arranged for those attending to have the chance to take part in a special tour of the exhibition by Henry McGhie, Head of the Natural Environments Team and Curator of Zoology, as well as trying out our new worksheets for secondary groups, finding out more about the Darwin Outreach materials for primary groups, exploring the new primary explorer backpacks and practicing being a Clippy Island clip bird!

I do hope that everyone who was able to attend enjoyed it as much as we did, it is great meeting teachers and tutors without the added pressure of 30 sets of beady student eyes watching your every move.  The tours with Henry were attended by everyone who came, so thanks to Henry for being so engaging and enthusiastic.  Vicky, Pippa and Menaka highlighted the new outreach boxes for primary groups, letting teachers see  and handle the variety of objects, and talking about how these work in the classroom.  We were also joined by colleagues from Widening Participation who were there to showcase the opportunities students have within the wider University.

Cat, Pete and I welcomed teachers to The Museum and Alexa rounded up recruits to try her new worksheets, which you can see in action in the accompanying image.

Our new Darwin Page of the website is now up and running, where you can find out more about the exhibition, public events and our associated learning programme, and we will be releasing details of future CPD opportunities in the near future, so watch this space!

Wilbraham Primary school clips on YouTube

Just before the summer holidays a group of children ( 4 -7 yrs) visited Manchester Museum with their teachers Darren Micklewright and Jackie Morisson and a group of parents. As well as visiting the galleries ,they were invited to handle  and respond to a selection of objects which had been selected for the new hands on  Nature Discovery gallery at Manchester Museum for young children and families . You can now view their very enlightening and creative responses on YouTube!

Wilbraham Primary school at The Manchester Museum

Here are links to other conversations with early years  groups at Manchester museum which are on You Tube which might be of interest.These clips are great to use with staff and or children pre or post museum visit.

Martenscroft nursery school and SureStart centre

Gorton South SureStart children’s centre