Amgueddfa Blog: Schools

Spring Bulbs for Schools - engaging with 175 schools

Penny Dacey, 17 May 2023

Penny Dacey, Spring Bulbs Project Coordinator, has been busy helping young budding scientists get outside and investigate the impact of climate change in an engaging and creative way!

Many of you may have heard of this Spring Bulbs project, as it’s been running since 2005! For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, here’s an overview. 

Pupils are asked to help Professor Plant, a friendly cartoon scientist, to explore the impact of a changing climate on the flowering dates of spring bulbs. Pupils do this by taking part in an annual study that involves documenting and submitting weather and flower data.

How it started and how it’s going…

The project began in Wales, under Danielle Cowell, Digital Learning Program Manager at Amgueddfa Cymru, but through funding from the Edina Trust has expanded to be UK wide.

Amgueddfa Cymru now engages 175 schools each year through the Spring Bulbs for Schools Investigation! That’s a lot of bulbs!

Let’s talk science!

Schools that participate in the investigation take part for a full academic year. They receive their resource packs in late September, plant their bulbs on 20 October, and begin taking weather records on 1 November through to 31 March.

Schools are asked to take weather records (temperature and rainfall readings) for every day that they are in school, and to upload this data to the Amgueddfa Cymru website at the end of each week. They are also asked to monitor their plants and to document the flowering date and the height of their plants on that date to the website. The result is that we can now compare the flowering dates for spring bulbs in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to those of previous years and look at how changing weather patterns may have impacted on these dates. Isn’t that amazing?


Making a difference - from scientific skills to well-being

The investigation supports the development of scientific knowledge and skills, including an understanding of plant growth, the impact of climate change on the environment, and data collection and analysis. Students are able to apply scientific methods and concepts to a real-world scenario, which helps them to understand the importance and relevance of science in their lives. The process of caring for their plants, getting outdoors (in all weather) and working together to collect the data has numerous benefits, both for well-being and in developing lifelong connections to nature.


Do you know of any schools that would like to take part?

Applications open on a first come first serve basis to primary schools in Wales in late April. If you know of any schools that would like to take part, please ask them to check
out the following pages for more information:
Spring Bulbs Website
Spring Bulbs Blog
Spring Bulbs Twitter

Caring for nature this May

Penny Dacey, 3 May 2023

Hi Bulb Buddies,

I hope it’s been a lovely, sunny start to May where you are.  The weather is getting warmer, and the days are getting longer. Here are a few things you can do to care for nature in May:

Go on a nature walk

Take a walk in your local park, woods, or countryside. Observe the different types of trees, flowers, and insects you come across. You could even take a notebook to draw and write about what you see. Why not practice mindfulness while you are outdoors, and really listen, look, smell and feel your surroundings. This Mindful Tour resource is developed for the gardens at St Fagans National Museum of History, but it contains some fantastic tips that can be applied to any mindful walk. 

Plant a garden

You don't need a big garden to grow plants. You could plant flowers in a pot or even in an old shoe! Why not create an up-cycled plant pot? You could do some research into pollinators to see which plants best support them. Pollinators like bees and butterflies are essential to the survival of plants and ecosystems but they are under threat because of habitat loss, climate change and pollution. Schools that entered weather and flower data to the Amgueddfa Cymru website will receive seeds that will help to support pollinators. 

Be mindful of water

Water is essential for all living things, but we should try to conserve it. Some ways you could do this are by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth, taking shorter showers or re-using water from the washing-up to water your plants! You can also help nature by making sure there is water in your garden or school grounds, such as in the form of a small pond or a birdbath. The bird spotting sheets on the right can help you to identify any common garden birds you might see. 

No Mow May

Some of you may have heard of the campaign #NoMowMay where people are asked to not mow sections of their garden this month to help wildlife. You may notice more areas that are left to grow wild over the coming weeks, and this campaign may be why. Be mindful of these spaces and the wild plants, insects and animals that might be making them their home. There are some areas that will adopt this approach throughout the summer, and councils are being encouraged to follow suit and leave safe spaces for wildlife. Maybe you could ask your school if they will support this by leaving an area of the grounds un-mowed? Maybe you could plant any pollinator seeds you receive for taking part in the Spring Bulbs for Schools Investigation in this space? 

There are many other small actions that can be taken to make a difference to our local spaces. Why not share any further ideas you have for exploring or conserving nature in the comments section below? Remember, every action helps when it comes to protecting our planet. So, get outside, explore, have fun, and make a difference! 

Professor Plant

How to measure snow

Penny Dacey, 8 March 2023

Hello Bulb Buddies,

Thank you for the comments and observations you sent in with last week’s weather readings. I’m expecting that some of Friday’s weather comments will mention snow, as many areas across the UK will have woken up to snow and ice this morning. I thought this might be a good time to look at how Meteorologists (weather scientists) measure snow. 

It is a lot trickier to measure the amount of snow that falls than it is to measure the amount of rain. This is because snow misbehaves! Snow is often blown by the wind into drifts, which causes some areas of deep snow and less snow in the areas around it. Because the snow fall is uneven the measurements from these places will be wrong. This is why we have to measure snow on flat surfaces, in the open and away from areas where drifts happen. Snow also likes to play games with Meteorologists who want to measure it, it melts into water and re-freezes into ice. This means that the snow measured on the ground isn’t always the same as the amount of snow that has fallen. Another problem is that new snow settles on old snow, so it is difficult to tell how much snow has fallen in one day from the snow that fell the day before.

Meteorologists have to take all these tricks the snow plays, and work around them to discover how much snow has fallen. They look at snow fall (the amount of snow that falls in one day) and snow depth (how deep the total snow level is, old snow and new snow). One way that Meteorologists measure snow fall is to use a piece of ply wood. They place the wood in an open location away from areas where snow drifts occur, and measure the snow on the board at 6hr intervals, clearing the snow from the board each time they measure it. This means they are only measuring the snow from that day, which will tell them how much snow has fallen on that day in that area.

Snow fall can also be measured in its melted state, as water. This means that you can use your rain gauge to measure the water equivalent of snow fall. If you only get a bit of snow then it should melt in your rain gauge anyway. But if you get a lot of snow, take your rain gauge inside to the warm and wait for the snow to melt into water. Then measure the water in the same way as you have done each week and report this as rain fall in your weather logs. 

If you have snow and enough time for an extra experiment – why not have a go at measuring snow depth? To do this all you need is a ruler (also known as a snow stick!). Place the snow stick into the snow until it touches the surface underneath and read the depth of the snow. Take these measurements from flat surfaces (benches work well) in open areas and away from snow drifts. You need to take at least three separate measurements to work out the average snow depth in your area. You work out the average measurement by adding the different readings together and dividing them by the number of measurements. So, if I measured the snow depth of three surfaces at 7cm, 9cm and 6cm, I would add these together (7+9+6 =22) and divide that by three, because there are three readings (22÷3=7.33). So, 7.33cm would be my average reading for snow depth on that date. 

Weather stations such as the MET Office have come up with new ways of measuring snow depth, using new technologies. The picture on the right shows one of the MET Offices snow stations. These use laser sensors to measure how deep the snow is on the flat surface placed below it. This means that Meteorologists can collect readings from all over the country at the push of a button, which is far more reliable and a lot easier than sending people out into the cold with snow sticks! The map on the right shows how many snow stations the MET office has and where these are, is there one close to you? 

If you have snow and measure the snow fall with your rain gauge or the snow depth with a snow stick, then please tell me in the ‘comments’ section when you are logging your weekly records. I would be very interested to know what the snow depth is compared to the snow fall collected in your rain gauge.

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies, 

Professor Plant

Minecraft Your Museum - families' favourite lockdown activity

Danielle Cowell, 22 October 2020

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales has been recognised for its fun family activities during lockdown in the Family Friendly Museum Award From Home.

The museum was one of five museums awarded top prizes today in an online awards ceremony hosted by TV personalities, Philip Mould and Professor Kate Williams.

Charity Kids in Museums has held its annual Family Friendly Museum Award for the past 15 years, recognising the most family friendly heritage sites in the UK. This year the charity created a special award to celebrate the extraordinary effort museums made to adapt to lockdown and support families. They asked families and museums to share their favourite lockdown activities – whether it was a film, quiz, game, craft or something else!

Over 400 nominations for the award were sent in from all over the world. In July, an expert panel whittled down these nominations to a shortlist of 26 museums.

Over the summer, families tested out the activities and their feedback, along with an expert panel, decided the winners of each category.

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales won the award for the Best Social Media Activity for the Minecraft Your Museum Competition. 

"We are delighted that this work was recognised! The work the children created by taking part was phenomenal! The effort they put into creating their own Museums was clearly evident and they had used so many skills to make them. More importantly all children said how much they enjoyed making their Museums and all of our judges enjoyed visiting them!" Danielle Cowell - Lead for Digital Learning at AC-NMW. 

Whilst the Minecraft Your Museum competition has finished you can still take part by creating your own Museum in Minecraft.

Download a resource pack here.

Please share your creations with us on social media - so others can enjoy!

The video below shows entries from all our participants and highlights the winning entries.

Indivdual entries can be found on the Peoples Collection Wales website.

Philip Mould, art dealer, broadcaster and Kids in Museums President, said: “It is a pleasure to today celebrate how museums and heritage sites have sprung into action and brought culture to families during this challenging time. What all our winners have in common is that they have managed to bring the best of museums to families at home. These projects not only helped them with home schooling, but also supported their wellbeing and helped them have fun together. Many congratulations to all our worthy winners.”

Here is the full list of families’ favourite lockdown activities:


Best Social Media Activity

Highly Commended

· Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft – Virtual Museum Club


· National Museum Wales – Minecraft your Museum


Best Film

Highly Commended

· University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge - Zoology Live! Online Festival


· Cooper Gallery, Barnsley - Wow Wednesdays


Best Website Activity

Highly Commended

· National Galleries Scotland – Home is Where the Art is


· National Videogame Museum, Sheffield – Create Your Own Pixel Art Character


Best International Digital Activity

Highly Commended

· Andy Warhol Museum, USA – Warhol Making It Videos


· The Glucksman, Republic of Ireland – Creativity at Home


Going the Extra Mile

Highly Commended

· Colchester and Ipswich Museums – Museum From Home Activity Packs

· Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books, Newcastle Upon Tyne – Something to Smile About: Supporting Families in East Newcastle


· The Whitworth, Manchester – Still Parents