Amgueddfa Blog: Learning

Each week, hundreds of people will walk through the front doors of the National Museum Cardiff. Yet despite visiting the exhibitions on display, many will be oblivious to what goes on in the background. Conducting a work experience placement at the museum gave us a rare insight into how much work and effort goes on behind closed doors.

 

With the intention of creating a video for the Saving Treasures, Telling Stories project, we were taken on a tour around the archaeology department on our first day of placement. We were fortunate to be shown around the stores, where many remarkable items were kept for preservation and research. Some of the items we viewed were Roman and prehistoric pots, vases and burial urns, which allowed us to explore how communities and cultures operated thousands of years ago.

 

The following day we attended Cyfarthfa Museum in Merthyr Tydfil, which is to acquire a hoard of five Roman Denarii, with thanks to funding from the Saving Treasures project. We filmed museum staff and the finders of the hoard, and heard about its significance. It was great to see the enthusiasm of the metal detectorists who discovered the hoard, and how proud they were of their achievement.

 

We spent the next few days editing the video together back at the University of South Wales campus. This proved to be a difficult job, as there were so many great shots to choose from, so it was difficult to decide which to cut out. However, the staff were always on hand to answer any questions we had and help out where possible.

 

Working at the National Museum Cardiff was a wonderful experience, and we were able to appreciate just how much work goes on behind closed doors to create the exhibitions we see. This work and research has helped us to understand history and past cultures in greater detail, and we would like to thank all the staff for their friendliness and a great week.

The National Museum of Wales is home to the Clore Discovery Centre, a hands-on gallery full of exciting treasures. This gallery offers visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with hundreds of objects from The Museum’s collections, from whale bones to Tudor fabrics. 

I have been working at the Discovery Centre for over two years. As a Learning Facilitator, my role is to help visitors of all ages and backgrounds enjoy and learn about our collections. I help people do this in many ways, including handling the objects (carefully!), examining them up close, making connections between objects, and using supporting materials such as books and toys to find out more.

I have become very familiar with our collections, which are housed in drawers with booklets that help us to discover more. Something that I find very interesting about the work of museums is the decisions that are made around how to interpret and talk about objects. One of my favourite drawers illustrates a perfect example of this.

If you were a museum curator and you had a fossil specimen, which collection would you put it into? Maybe the easiest answer is that you would look at it scientifically, and house it in the Geology collection…

However, my favourite drawer, ‘Fossil Folklore’, may help you to think of fossils in a different way, not as science but as part of the stories and local cultures of Britain many generations ago. 

When you think about fossils, what do you think about?

Maybe you think about fossils in a museum cabinet, or fossils on a beach such as nearby Penarth (where the odd dinosaur bone has been dug up over the years)!

What would you think if you found a fossil but didn’t know what it was? What if you had never seen one before?

‘Fossil Folklore’ is a drawer in the Clore Discovery Centre that perfectly addresses this question. Over time, people from different countries and cultures have made their own stories about fossils, what they are, and where they come from. 

You may be familiar with the ammonite, a round spiral fossil with ridges. The ammonite was a sea creature that lived around the coasts of Britain about 100 million years ago. It is related to the modern nautilus and even squid. Its soft body has decayed with time, and the ridges that we trace our fingers over are the animal’s hard shell. 

But what if you found an ammonite and you had never seen one before? 

Maybe you would guess that it was a snail, or a long, thin creature curled up into a spiral? Maybe you would think of a story explaining what you thought the ammonite was. 

When you look at an ammonite, you can imagine it as a snake curled up into a spiral. For this reason, ammonite fossils were often referred to as “snakestones”. The people of Whitby in Yorkshire have passed down the Legend of St. Hilda to explain their ideas about ammonites and their origin. St. Hilda, a spirited Northumbrian royal, is said to have uttered a mighty prayer and cut off the heads of all the local snakes before turning them into stone. In Christianity, snakes are often seen as symbols of evil, so St. Hilda’s triumph is celebrated. Local craftspeople in Whitby often carved the head of a snake into the ammonite fossils.

One of the reasons that I find this drawer so fascinating is that I love stories. Stories help us to make bonds with each other and to make sense of the world around us. The snakestone story gives us a glimpse into the lives of people living in the Britain many generations ago and helps us to understand how they made sense of their world. Scientific discoveries are always being made, and our understanding of the world is always evolving and changing. Why not come and explore at our Discovery Centre and see if you can find out more about our understanding of the world in which we live?

The Clore Discovery Centre at the National Museum is open at weekends and during school holidays (10am until 4:45pm). The Museum is closed on Mondays.

Hello Bulb Buddies,

Thank you to all schools who have entered their flower data! Remember to make sure the dates entered are correct and that the height has been entered in millimetres. We have had a few flowers reported for April and lots of very short crocus and daffodils!

If you spot that your entries need amending, just re-enter them to the website with a comment to explain that the new entry is to replace a previous one.

I have enjoyed reading the comments that have been sent with the weather and flower data! I’ve attached some of these below.

Last year an interesting question was raised by Stanford in the Vale Primary, who asked whether they needed to enter multiple flower records if the height and flowering date were the same for each? It is still important to enter this flower data, as the number of flowers at a particular height and particular date will impact on the overall averages for the project.

To work out your schools mean flowering height for the crocus and daffodil, add all of your crocus or daffodil heights together and divide by the number of entries for that flower.

If you have one flower at 200mm and one at 350mm the mean would be 275mm. If you have one flower at 200mm and ten flowers at 350mm your mean flower height would be 336mm. This is why it is important that you enter all of your flower records.

Every flower record is important and impacts on the overall results. If your plant hasn’t grown by the end of March, please send in a flower record without a date or height and explain this in the comment section. If your plant has grown but hasn’t produced a flower by the end of March please enter the height without a date and explain this in the comments section.

Keep the questions coming Bulb Buddies! There are resources and activities on the website to help you. Once your plant has flowered, why not draw it and label the different parts of the plant? I would love to see photos of your drawings and will post any that are sent in on my next Blog!

On that note, I'd like to share Llanharan Primary's video with you, click here!

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!

Professor Plant

I hope you all had a lovely break over Christmas and New Year. Thank you to everyone who has sent weather data in. I'm enjoying hearing how your plants are doing and what the weather is like where you are! Remember, there are schools taking part from all over the UK. You can use the website to compare your results with schools in other countries. In the report at the end of the project we will compare the weather and flowering dates for Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Which country do you think will be warmer and which do you think will have the most rain?

Lots of schools have reported that their bulbs have started to grow. Can you tell which of the plants are daffodil and which are crocus? The pictures on the right might help you to identify your plants. The pictures show plants on the same day, in the same park, but growing in different places. Some of the plants have grown less than others. Why do you think this is? The descriptions with the photos might help you to think of reasons why the plants are developing differently.

I look forward to your next data entries and comments. Remember, you can share photos by email and over Twitter.

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant

 

Your Comments

Weather

Thank you for your weather updates Bulb Buddies.

Ysbyty Ifan: Wythnos gyntaf yn ol yn yr ysgol ac mae'n eithaf braf. Pawb yn hapus ar ol chwarae efo teganau newydd Sion Corn!

Ysgol Beulah: Blwyddyn newydd dda! Rydyn ni wedi cael wythnos sych.

Kirkby La Thorpe Cof E Primary Academy: colder week, quite dull and damp atmosphere (coats on at playtime!) but very little rain , nearly snow like on Wednesday as attempted to rain , small brief flurry in the cold wind. ground still moist , a few weeds but no flowers emerging yet! although daffodils available in shops.

Ochiltree Primary School: We have had a wet week this week.

Darran Park Primary: The temperature is lower this week and there hasn't been so much rain.

Hudson Road Primary School: It has been so cold this week and very windy

Hudson Road Primary School: It has rained this week everyday

 

Project

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda – Happy New Year to you all Bulb Buddies.

Ysgol Bro Pedr: Blwyddyn Newydd Dda - Happy New Year

Shirenewton Primary School: Nadolig Llawen a blwyddyn Newydd dda

Ysbyty Ifan: Nadolig llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda a diolch yn fawr am y cerdyn.

 

Plants

Thank you for the updates on your plants Bulb Buddies. I’m excited to hear that lots of plants have started to grow.

Carnbroe Primary School: Happy New Year Professor Plant we have been checking our bulbs this week and they look well but no flowers. We have had not much rain and it is been mild.

Ysgol Casmael: Some of our bulbs have shoots starting to peep through.

Ysgol Nantymoel: Some of our plants are starting to grow. Please help we have made a mistake with our records before Christmas and still can't correct them.

Dalreoch Primary School: Our bulbs in the ground have started to show through. They are about 3cm tall.

Hendredenny Park Primary: Some bulbs are starting to show shoots

Steelstown Primary School: This week all of the bulbs have started to grow. Everyone is super excited and can't wait until April when all of them should be grown!

Steelstown Primary School: When we are taking the temperature and rainfall we have noticed that the bulbs are starting to grow it is very exciting. We cannot wait until they have fully grown into flowers

St Julian's Primary School: Lots of daffodils have started to grow now.

 

 

 

Hi Bulb Buddies,

Thank you for all of your hard work collecting weather data over the last few weeks. The next week for weather records will be 7-11 January. When entering data to the website please enter 'no record' for the dates that you weren't in school to take readings.

There's no need to take your pots home with you over Christmas. So long as they are in a safe place in the school yard where they are unlikely to get blown over by the wind, they will be fine. The bulbs are insulated by the soil and can withstand the winter weather.

The weather has been mild in many places again this autumn/ winter, and it will be interesting to see how this effects our plants.

Have a lovely break Bulb Buddies.

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year from

Professor Plant & Baby Bulb

 

Comments from weather entries:

Comments about the project

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Hi, the week is wrong but it wouldn't show this week on the select a week list. Been cold and rainy this week. Speak to you next week!! R. Professor Plant: Thank you for updating me R. I’ll look into why this week wasn’t showing. Keep up the good work.

Good Shepherd Primary and Nursery School: C.:it was very fun. R.:I think it was very intresting. Professor Plant: Lovely to hear from you buddies, and I’m glad you’re enjoying the project!

Steelstown Primary School:  From reading the data this week we think that it is raining a lot more but also the temperature is rising. We can't wait for next week. We love doing this project. Every week the results are different and we are excited to continue doing it and colleting the data for the weather. Professr Plant: Thanks bulb buddies, have you looked at data from previous years and from different schools? You can do this on the web site and I think you’d find it interesting!

Ysgol Bro Pedr: Our bulbs are feeling a bit cold this week. Thank you very much For the Christmas Card. Professor Plant: It is getting colder, but the bulbs will hopefully stay well insulated and cosy in the soil! I’m glad your card arrived, merry Christmas bulb buddies.

Comments about your bulbs

Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant (Llanelli): Mae rhai o'r bylbiau yn dechrau egino. Athro’r Ardd: Newyddion gwych cyfeillion, hoffwn weld lluniau!

Henllys CIW Primary: on Tuesday actual rainfall was o.5mm We have spotted a small shoot coming from one of the pots a - daffodil in R.'s pot Also, the coconut husk pot has surprised us as the daffodil shoot has sprung up this week it is now showing quite a bit and the crocus shoot is poking up from the soil. Professor Plant: How exciting bulb buddies, I’d love to see photos if you are able to take and share these? Keep up the good work.

Carnbroe Primary School: Dear Professor Plant and Baby Bulb it has been very cold this week and the soil in our plant pots are frozen and icy. Our bulbs are doing well and they are really healthy. Professor Plant: Well done for looking after your plants bulb buddies, I’m glad to hear that they are doing well. Thank you for your observations and for providing an insight into the weather conditions in your area.

Good Shepherd Primary and Nursery School: we like seeing the plants grow. Professor Plant: Me too bulb buddies! 

Comments about the weather:

YGG Tonyrefail: Mae hi wedi bod yn wythnos sych ac oer. Diolch am eich cerdyn Nadolig Athro'r Ardd a Bylb Bychan. Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd dda i chi gyd yn yr Amgueddfa. Welwn ni chi yn 2019!! Athro’r Ardd: Diolch cyfeillion y gwanwyn, Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i bawb yn Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Tonyrefail hefyd!

Our Lady of Peace Primary School: Another normal cold week well see you after Christmas break. Professor Plant: See you after Christmas bulb buddies.

Holy Cross Girls' Primary Schoo: We were out on a school trip on Wednesday so didn't have the opportunity to collect the data. Professor Plant: Thank you for letting me know bulb buddies. I hope you had a good trip!

Tonyrefail Community School: Our rain gauge kept falling over this week so we have no record on Wednesday. Professor Plant: Thank you for letting me know bulb buddies!

Ysgol Nantymoel: We have inputted the wrong data for week commencing 12.05.18 how can we correct it? Professor Plant: Hi bulb buddies, you should be able to re-enter data for previous weeks. When you do this the most recent data entered for a given week shows on the graph. If this isn’t working please email me and I’ll update your data for you.

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Quite cold this week defenetly today. It was frozen this morning! Today the temperature has slipped down a lot! The week was wrong again because it wouldn't let us choose the right week!! Speak to you next year-2019!! R. Professor Plant: Thanks for the update R. You are doing a fantastic job. I’ll look into the issue with the dates and will fix it for when you start back!

Chorley St James Primary School: This week it has been very dry and very gloomy, but some parts of the day it has been sunny. Professor Plant: Thank you for the weather observations bulb buddy.