Amgueddfa Blog: Learning

Hi Bulb Buddies, 

I hope that planting day went well and that you are enjoying documenting weather data for our investigation. 

I want to say a big thank you to you all for your hard work on planting day. Together we planted over 18,800 bulbs across the UK! Your fantastic planting day photos show that you had a great time.  

Weather records started on 2 November. There is a resource on the website with more information on keeping weather records. I’ve attached this here in case you haven’t already seen it. This resource helps you to answer important questions, such as why rainfall and temperature readings are important to our investigation into the effects of climate on the flowering dates of spring bulbs.  

Use your Weather Chart to log the rainfall and temperature every day that you are in school. At the end of each week, log into your Spring Bulbs account on the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales website to enter your weekly readings. You can also leave comments or ask questions for me to answer in my next Blog. 

Let me know how you get on and remember that you can share photos via email or Twitter. 

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies, 

Professor Plant 

 

Comments shared with the first weeks weather data:

Planting bulbs

St Patrick Primary School: We planted the bulbs on 3 November 2020 as it was a sunny day. We had so much fun planting the bulbs, it was a great experience for our class. Professor Plant: I’m glad you enjoyed planting your bulbs Bulb Buddies. I hope you enjoy taking weather records too! 

Our Lady of Peace Primary School: Thank you for sending us bulbs we really enjoyed planting them from K and A. Professor Plant: You are more than welcome Bulb Buddies, thank you for taking part in the project.  

Arkholme Primary School: We planted our bulbs before the half term holiday. The rain gauge and thermometer are set up and we enjoyed collected the information. Professor Plant: Fantastic work Bulb Buddies, it sounds like you have everything under control. Thank you for sharing your weekly data. 

Livingston Village Primary School: We had lots of rain over the weekend so that is why our rainfall was so high on Monday. We have had some of our bulbs dug up so we used our night vision camera to watch and see what was happening. We saw a squirrel and a bird digging at our bulbs! Professor Plant: I’m sorry to hear your bulbs were dug up, but what exciting detective work to find the culprit! I'd love to see the video footage if you are able to share it. It’s likely that the bird was making the most of the newly turned soil to look for food. Squirrels do eat some spring bulbs , but they are also known to dig up bulbs when looking for somewhere to store their food for the winter! If you find that your bulbs are dug up again, apparently sprinkling chilli flakes or powder in the area will deter squirrels.  

Coastlands School: Our professor plant has been wondering if the frosty mornings might effect the growth of our bulbs! Professor Plant: Hi Bulb Buddies, that's a good question. We expect that the weather will affect the growth of our plants and that they will flower earlier if we have a mild winter. Your bulbs will be nice and warm in the soil for the winter. You might like origami booklet resource on the Spring bulb website, this looks at the secret life of a bulb and what your bulb does in winter. 

Collecting weather data 

YGG Tonyrefail: Helo Athro'r ardd. Dyma ein canlyniadau cyntaf ni o YGG Tonyrefail. Rydw i'n falch o gael gweld yr heulwen!!! Professor Plant: Diolch Cyfeillian y Gwanwyn, daliwch ati gyda'r gwaith da. 

Steelstown Primary School: Our first week of weather watching was good fun. We had to set an alarm to remind us to do it at the same time every day. Professor Plant: Setting an alarm is a great idea Bulb Buddies! Thank you for sharing your data. 

Pearson Primary School: The children loved going down to the garden every day to check the temperature and to see if their plants are growing yet. As yet we have had no rain here, so hopefully we will get some over the weekend and the children can measure the rainfall next week. Professor Plant: I’m glad that the class are enjoying the project. I love that they are hoping for rain so that they can take rainfall readings! Fantastic work Bulb buddies. 

Pil Primary School: There was a lot of rain on Monday! We liked recording the results. Professor Plant: I’m glad you are enjoying taking weather readings. Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies. 

Sheuchan Primary School: Very wet start to week. Monday's rainfall figure includes from 2pm Friday to 2pm Monday. Professor Plant: Thank you for emptying the rain gauge on the Friday Bulb Buddies, keep up the good work. 

Carreghofa Primary School: It hasn't rained much this week but on Monday Mr Roberts empty the funnel out so mondays results was not accurate. Professor Plant: Thank you for letting me know Bulb Buddies, keep up the good work. 

St Mary Primary School (Co Down): Hello Professor Plant. We are the eco ambassador and the science champion in our class. We ae going to help our class observe the rainfall and the temperature this year to see the flowers grow. Professor Plant: Thank you for taking on leading roles with this project Bulb Buddies. I look forward to your updates on how the investigation is going at your school. 

St Peter Primary School (Plumbridge): We enjoyed our first week recording. Professor Plant: Fantastic Bulb Buddies, thank you for sharing your data. 

Weather observations 

Professor Plant: Thank you to the following schools for the detailed weather observations they have shared with their weekly data. Keep up the great work Bulb Buddies. 

Oystermouth Primary: Very dry end to the week in Mumbles. Temperatures appear high but it was much colder in reality. 

Porthcawl Primary: After loads of rain for the whole of half term and the start of the week it has been amazing sunshine since Wednesday 

Moffat Academy: At the weekend it was so rainy it filled up the rain-gage. The rest of the week was pretty dry. It felt very cold, though it was considerably warm temperature wise. Mostly cloudy through the week, with a bit of sun. Frost on the fifth, and mist or fog on the sixth. 

Newbuildings Primary School: The sun has been shining brightly in Newbuildings today! Monday and Tuesday have been very wet Thursday has been the hottest day of the week. Our bulbs are snug asleep in their little plant pots! 

Litchard Primary School: It's been frosty every morning with some ground frost. All the temp and rainfall has been the same and its sunny every afternoon. 

High Cross Primary School: We have noticed it has got colder this week. 

Ysgol Bro Pedr: It's been quite a cold week, but it's been really sunny towards the end of the week. 

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: We observed our first frosts this week - its been a cold week! 

How a Distanced Professional Training Year Can Still Be Enjoyable and Successful

As an undergraduate, studying biosciences at Cardiff University, I am able to undertake a placement training year. Taxonomy, the study of naming, defining, and classifying living things, has always interested me and the opportunity to see behind the scenes of the museum was a chance I did not want to lose. So, when the time came to start applying for placements, the Natural Sciences Department at National Museum Cardiff was my first choice. When I had my first tour around the museum, I knew I had made the right choice to apply to carry out my placement there. It really was the ‘kid in the candy shop’ type of feeling, except the sweets were preserved scientific specimens. If given the time I could spend days looking over every item in the collection and marvelling at them all. 

The 'candy shop' moment of seeing the museum's collections

Jars of preserved specimens in the collections at National Museum Cardiff

Of course, the plans that were set out for my year studying with the museum were made last year and, with the Covid-19 pandemic this has meant that plans had to change! However, everyone has adapted really well and thankfully, a large amount of the work I am doing can be done from home or in zoom meetings when things need to be discussed.

Currently, my work focuses on writing a scientific paper that will be centered on describing and naming a new species of shovel head worm (Magelonidae) from North America. Shovel head worms are a type of marine bristle worm and as the name describes, are found in the sea. They are related to earth worms and leeches. So far, my work has involved researching background information and writing the introduction for the paper. This  is very helpful for my own knowledge because when I applied for the placement I didn’t have the slightest clue about what a shovel head worm was but now I can confidently understand what people mean when they talk about chaetigers or lateral pouches!

Part of the research needed for the paper also includes looking closely at species found in the same area as the new species, or at species that are closely related in order to determine that our species is actually new.

Photos for the paper were taken by attaching a camera to a microscope and using special imaging stacking software which takes several shots at different focus distances and combines them into a fully focused image. While ideally, I would have taken these images myself, I am unable to due to covid restrictions, so my training year supervisor, Katie Mortimer-Jones took them.

Camera mounted on a microscope used to take images of the worms

Then I cleaned up the backgrounds and made them into the plates ready for publication. I am very fortunate that I already have experience in using applications similar to photoshop for art and a graphics tablet so it wasn’t too difficult for me to adjust what I already had in order to make these plates. Hopefully soon, I will be able to take these images for myself.

Getting images ready for publication

My very first publication in a scientific journal doesn’t seem that far away and I still have much more time in my placement which makes me very excited to see what the future holds. Of course, none of this would be possible without the wonderful, friendly and helpful museum staff who I have to express my sincere thanks to for allowing me to have this fantastic opportunity to work here, especially my supervisor, Katie Mortimer-Jones.

Shovel head worm 

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

Winner

· National Museum Wales – Minecraft your Museum

 

Best Film

Highly Commended

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

Winner

· Cooper Gallery, Barnsley - Wow Wednesdays

 

Best Website Activity

Highly Commended

· National Galleries Scotland – Home is Where the Art is

Winner

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

 

Best International Digital Activity

Highly Commended

· Andy Warhol Museum, USA – Warhol Making It Videos

Winner

· 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

Winner

· The Whitworth, Manchester – Still Parents

Hello Bulb Buddies,

Schools from across the UK will be planting their bulbs as close to 20 October as they can. This means that most schools will be planting their bulbs tomorrow!

Click here for activities and resources that will help you with this part of the project and with looking after your bulbs over the coming months! 

These resources will help you on planting day:

  • Adopt your Bulb (an overview of the care your bulbs will need)
  • Planting your Bulbs (guidelines for ensuring a fair experiment)

And these activities are fun to complete:

  • Bulb Adoption Certificate
  • Make Bulb Labels

Please read the resources as they contain important information! For example, do you know to label your pot so that you know where the daffodil and crocus are planted?

Remember to take photos of your planting day to enter the Planting Day Competition!

Keep an eye on Professor Plant's Twitter page to see how planting day goes for other schools.

Best of luck Bulb Buddies! Let us know how you get on!

Professor Plant & Baby Bulb

Forums were established early in the Creu Hanes Making History project at St. Fagans to help us develop our participatory practice. One of these was the Informal Learning Forum, its focus was adult and community learning and involvement. Partners on this forum were largely involved in these areas of work and came together to support us to develop an adult learning programme at the Museum.

During the project the Forums played different roles, and some were more active than others. The Informal Learning Forum initially worked with us a lot and subsequently throughout the life of the project they helped to shape the scope of Adult Learning at the Museum.

In 2015 when I took on the role working with the forum we began to revisit their role and revitalise their involvement in not only the project but in Adult Learning throughout the Museum, in addition to contributing to the development of the Wellbeing programme.

Since then the forum, now known as the Adult Learning Forum, has gone from strength to strength. They have supported us through the project and with new and ongoing work. Many of the original partners are still with us after the completion of the project in 2018, and new partners have since joined, adding to the diversity and scope of the group.

Here’s a flavour of some of the work we’ve done together over the years and what the partners have to say about it:

“Llandaff 50+ felt extremely privileged to be asked to join the Adult Learners’ Forum and attend its quarterly meetings at St Fagans National History Museum.

Our charity’s aims are to help to ease the problems of loneliness and social isolation amongst older people and to encourage them to organise, and take part in, activities and social events.  So, the opportunity to not only work with St Fagans, but also other local charity groups and organisations was an opportunity not to be missed.  Contributing to discussions about facilities and opportunities for older people during the refurbishment of the Museum provoked many suggestions from our members about the problems of old age.

It’s so easy to become centred on your own organisation and not see what else is happening in the voluntary and charitable sectors.  Although we have the opportunity to give an update on our own activities in the Forum, it is always amazing to find out what else is happening.  And we also get the chance to meet new people from all over Cardiff and the Vale, people helping others to improve their lives.  Our Treasurer said ‘I didn’t realise there was so much going on, people are doing wonderful things’ after her first meeting.

And we hear of opportunities to volunteer, too.  We cherish the memories of cataloguing the books from the library at the Oakdale Workmen’s Institute, and then seeing them back on the shelves, where they belong.  The books on engineering, that expanded the mind, children’s classics, that entertained at bedtime, and even a few that were a little risqué (and popular, too, judging by the stamps on the inside cover!).  And an enjoyable lunch, after each session, formed a friendship group that still remains.

The Forum has made Llandaff 50+ feel part of the Museum, and our organised visit and tour had a record attendance from members, all re-visiting with new friends, and enjoying the explanations of knowledgeable guides.  Many returned with family later in the year to tell of their learning.

We are also able to pass on information, learned at the Forum, to our members.  Many attended Adult Learners’ Week events and enjoyed learning new crafts, and remembering old ones.  New walks and leaflets are explained during 50+ meetings, and visits encouraged.  

We hope that the Forum will continue and enable our small, but very active charity, to work with such an important and much-loved Museum into the future, for mutual benefit.” (Volunteer, Llandaff 50+)        

Oakdale Reinterpretation Project

The forum members were integral to the reinterpretation of Oakdale Workman’s Institute in 2015-16. The impact of their contribution saw the building reopen with a more participatory and user-friendly interpretation. This included developing resources for Welsh learners, those living with dementia, and individuals with sensory conditions.  You can now also access all the rooms of the institute, some of which were only viewable from the doorway prior to the reinterpretation work.

“In March 2016, as a member of Cardiff U3A’s Local History group, I became part of a re- interpretation project of Oakdale Miners Institute or ‘stute as locals called it. The project, which involved me in research of the building, built during the First World War and which remained a key educational and social centre for Oakdale miners and community through its reading room, meetings, library, concerts, films and dances for many years. This project culminated in the re-opening of the building in its centenary year, celebrated with a party for local people from Oakdale and for me by writing an article in the national U3A quarterly magazine ‘Third Age Matters’.” (Valerie Maidment, member of the Cardiff U3A).

Trialling Adult Learning at St Fagans

Forum members have been central to trialling courses and taster sessions at St Fagans over the past few years. We worked with local community partners Action Ely Caerau (ACE) to recruit volunteers to pilot our first accredited course in sewing skills in 2016. All participants were local to the area and faced barriers to participating in traditional learning opportunities. The course was integrally linked to the Museum, as the participants were making costumes for Museum staff to wear when delivering the Iron Age school session. The garments were based on a traditional pattern, and participants were guided through the techniques required to make them by the experienced tutor and expert historic garment seamstress Sally Pointer. None of the participants had previously sewn and they all left at the end of the 10-week course having not only achieved a qualification, but improved their confidence and interest in further learning.

“We’ve really enjoyed working with the National Museum of Wales at St Fagans, and they’ve become a hugely valued partner in the CAER Hidden Hillfort Project.  An example of the impact this partnership has made is found in our collaboratively organised sewing course.  Accredited by Agroed Cymru and run in partnership with Adult Learning Wales, the project built on the strengths of both organisations, with ACE recruiting participants from our local communities (and hosting the training at the local community hub) and the National Museum creating a welcoming environment, facilitating the training and arranging participant visits to St Fagans.  13 participants, all of whom faced barriers to learning and none of whom had sewed before, completed the course.  Outcomes included increased self-confidence and renewed interest in learning.  The replica Iron Age costumes they made are still used by the museum, so they’ve left their mark!  We love this kind of project and are enthusiastic participants in the Adult Learning Forum to ensure we can continue working with partners like the National Museum on precisely this kind of project well into the future.” Dave Horton, ACE Development Manager.

Adult Learners Week:

A key member of the Forum, the Learning and Work Institute, run the Adult Learners Week campaign across Wales every year. They have provided support when it comes to developing and delivering our programmes over the years and we have been regular contributors since 2015. We have tested activities and craft workshops, explored the potential of joint delivery and hosting courses, and ensured we’ve been able to provide opportunities to the participants of our partner organisations, as well as offering opportunities on a larger scale e.g. by holding an information fair in 2019. This year, for Adult Learners Week we have been proud to take part in this digital event, creating a programme of opportunities focused on making, crafting and creating.

Here’s a quote from a key partner Hafal, whose participants have trialled and taken part in workshops during previous Adult Learners Weeks and at different times throughout the year.

“I run a gardening project for groups of people at Hafal, the Mental Health Charity based inside St Fagans museum.       

Being part of the Adult Learners Forum has given me the fantastic chance to take groups to a variety of workshops held in the museum. The Decorative Copper workshop was a great success as was the Love spoon carving, and we worked for quite a few weeks on helping to thatch the Roundhouse building.

Finding out from other members of the forum about what they have going on in the community has also offered opportunities for us to attend different activities. One of these was the archaeological dig at the Ely Hillfort, where we were shown around the site being worked on and then got to see some of the artefacts that had been uncovered there.

This led to a workshop in the museum with the lead archaeologist, looking in more depth at what was found on the site and what it could tell us of the way people were living at that time, which was extremely interesting to the whole group.

There are many learning opportunities discussed at the forums, and I am able to inform my groups so that they can take up them opportunities if wanted.

Loveday is extremely knowledgeable and approachable, and very good at linking people together for mutual benefit. It has been a privilege to be part of the forum.” (Lesley, Recovery Practitioner, Hafal).

Hosting courses at St Fagans

Since the opening of the new facilities at St Fagans in 2017 we have worked hard with partners to establish opportunities for other organisations to bring their learning opportunities to the Museum. We have worked with Cardiff Met’s Widening Access Department who in 2019 bought a series of courses to the Museum e.g. Creative Writing and Complimentary Therapy. These courses used the Museum and its collection to draw inspiration and influence the content of the courses. This delivery partnership enables learners to experience a unique Welsh perspective on their learning experience.

Here’s what the Widening Access team at Cardiff Met have to say about the partnership:

“It has been our great pleasure to work collaboratively with St Fagans, enabling us to enrich courses by sharing the wonderful resources and expertise available at the Museum.  Tutors from the University are able to work with the staff at St Fagans to incorporate Welsh culture into their courses and the exhibits bring this to life for students.

By sharing resources, publicity and expertise the students benefit by a greater offer than without the partnership work.  We are also able to reach a wider community and are able to consult via the learning forum so that we have a better understanding of what the community would like to learn.

Finally it is great to be able to hold the courses in such fantastic buildings and have the support of all the staff who are always professional, friendly and most importantly provide a warm welcome.” (Jan Jones, Head of Widening Access, Cardiff Met).

We also work closely with Welsh for Adults, based within the School of Welsh at Cardiff University. We have hosted Sadwrn Siarad, a day of welsh language activities, in the summer for several years, but in 2019 we were able to offer them classroom space to bring Welsh evening courses to St Fagans. This was piloted in January 2019 when the first Entry 1 course started. Following its success two further courses started the following September, whilst the learners engaged on the first course progressed to Entry 2.

Here’s what the Welsh for Adults team at the School of Welsh have to say about the partnership:

“Mae Dysgu Cymraeg Caerdydd yn falch iawn o gael y cyfle i gyd-weithio â Sain Ffagan Amgueddfa Werin Cymru. Ffurfiwyd y bartneriaeth drwy Fforwm Addysg Oedolion sy’n cael ei arwain gan Loveday Williams o’r Amgueddfa ac mae’r cyd-weithio rhyngom wedi mynd o nerth i nerth ers hynny. Yn Ionawr 2019, cynhaliwyd cwrs dysgu Cymraeg lefel Mynediad ar gyfer dechreuwyr yn yr Amgueddfa. Mae’r gwaith wedi dwyn ffrwyth ers hynny gan i ni ddarparu tri chwrs ym mis Medi 2019, cwrs dilyniant a dau gwrs lefel Mynediad i ddechreuwyr. Er i ni orfod oedi’r dysgu wyneb yn wyneb ym mis Mawrth eleni, mae’r holl gyrsiau wedi parhau’n rhithiol ac yn parhau ar-lein am 2020-2021. Felly er nad oes modd i ni gynnal dosbarthiadau yn Sain Ffagan ar hyn o bryd, mae’r Fforwm Addysg Oedolion yn ein galluogi ni i barhau i gyd-weithio a chynllunio at y cyfnod nesaf.” (Mari Rowlands, Dysgu Cymraeg Caerdydd)

“Learn Welsh Cardiff is delighted to have the opportunity to work with St Fagans National Museum of History. The partnership was formed through the Adult Learning Forum led by Loveday Williams from the Museum and the partnership has gone from strength to strength ever since. In January 2019, we held an Entry level Welsh course for beginners at the Museum. The work came to fruition when we provided three courses in September 2019, a progression course and two Entry level courses for beginners. Despite pausing all face-to-face learning back in March, all courses have continued virtually and will remain online for 2020-2021. So although we can't hold classes at St Fagans at the moment, the Adult Education Forum allows us to continue to work together and plan for the next period.” (Mari Rowlands, Learn Welsh Cardiff)

We look forward to continuing to work with all our partners, and establishing new ones in the future as we assess what our “new normal” will look like and how we can continue to operate and grow our adult learning offer.