There is a plethora of benefits in having industry partners involved. The vast amounts of knowledge and hands on experience that can be accessed during the duration of the project.
Working with the Science Museum Group means that our ESRs have access not just to the wealth of knowledge at their secondment institutions but the ability to visit other museums across the UK. Ellen De Korte, currently doing her secondment at the Science and Media Museum in Bradford, visited the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester.
The museum, opened in 1983, is dedicated to the development of science, technology and industry with emphasis on the city’s achievements in these fields.
It is roughly one week until the Lates and
Science Festival. I am collecting final bits for my stall and testing
things out. The big challenge of it all is finding ways to draw people in and
keep them long enough in order to get them interested in my research. This is
not only about designing my stall, but also how I will take visitors through my
Cameras from the National Science and Media Museum’s handling
collection were a major challenge, because they appeared to be more
attractive to visitors than the other ordinary objects on my table. It is
interesting to see people’s responses to the cameras. Visitors seemed to find cameras
from around 1900 strange (and they are), because taking a picture with it is
very different from how we take pictures nowadays. On the other hand, the more
recent ones (1980’s) were more familiar to older visitors, so the cameras draw
people in for two entirely opposing reasons.
Either way, this meant that I had to find a way to get the
handling collections objects in, without entirely losing the visitors to them. As
soon as visitors were allowed to handle the old cameras, it was hard to get
them back on track. Therefore, I tried introducing the cameras later on as a
surprise for visitors who lingered a bit longer, which seemed to work much
This is one of the many things I am learning on my way to
the Lates and the Bradford Science Festival. I think I will learn a lot during
the events themselves as well. For now, I will get ready for the big days and
enjoy a visit to the museum’s partner in Manchester: the National Science and
It is two more weeks until the Bradford
Science Festival. My collection of objects is now complete and the
preparation of my text and study material is almost done. In the meantime, I
have also become a STEM-ambassador.
STEM is an acronym for the combined subjects of Science Technology Engineering
and Mathematics. A STEM-ambassador is a volunteer who promotes those subjects
in various ways. This can include demonstrations at schools, but it means you
can also work with teachers in promoting STEM in schools.
As my research topic is part of psychology, it may seem a
bit odd that I have become a STEM-ambassador. Yet, there is quite a bit of STEM
involved in my job. For example, if I set up a typical experiment, I have to
display the materials I want to show on a computer. Not only is the computer itself
an obvious piece of STEM, but the images of materials involve quite a bit of
mathematics. For a computer an image is a big table of numbers that represent
image colours. Unfortunately, computer monitors do not always display the right
colour if you give them a specific number. This means that I have to check the
colours that my monitor displays with a special device. On top of that, I have
to pay attention to the lighting of the materials I use, because this
influences the look of materials as well. These little things involve physics
and mathematics (light and the transformation of numbers in light to get
colours) and this is not even the data collection and analysis yet (there is a
lot of mathematics involved in the latter).
I will not bother you any further with the biology that is
involved in my subject, because I have to understand the workings of the eye
and the brain as well. Or how our research findings might be used for design of
materials (engineering). All I hope, is that it has become clear that STEM is a
big part of my job and our daily lives.
Day 2 saw us being welcomed by the Science and Media Museum, promising a full day of expert training and wondrous science.
As soon as you enter the space you know that you will be in for a day of adventure. The space is expertly renovated to welcome you into the marvelous world of science and media. I say renovated not built because the original building was not conceived as a museum space. The 1960’s the space was envisioned to be a cinema. Even though the museum has undergone many name changes and it looks fairly different now, the cinema areas are still there. They even had the first IMAX cinema in Europe.
Our day started with a warm welcome from Jo Quinton-Tulloch, Director at National Science and Media Museum. As part of the Science Museum Group, who are DyViTo partners, they are the worlds most significant group devoted to science.
Of course, we couldn’t go the Science and Media Museum without spending some time in the Wonderlab. Not enough time, if you ask me, but we had a schedule to keep. We even had the opportunity to observe the museum staff in action: we got to sit in on a school visit at the Wonderlab Studio. Not only was Liz, the presenter-extraordinaire, inspiring and energetic but she was able to keep the children engaged throughout.
Having air canons helped as well.
Alas, in no time at all we had to leave the Wonderlab. However, the museum staff had one more trick up their sleeve.
We had the privilege of taking a peak at some of the items in the museum storage. From the camera that was used to film the iconic Bohemian Rhapsody intro, to the Daily Herald archives and rows upon rows of classic cameras, everywhere you looked there was something fascinating. Our expert guides made sure we understood the innovative nature and, in some cases, the breakthrough designs that helped shape the world of media and photography we now know.
It was not all fun and games, though. We heard about the work that the museum does in order to engage the community in Bradford. John Darnbrough, Learning Programmes Developer, spoke about the various outreach work that the museum undertakes. The Family Programme alone can have over 30 thousand visitors across the event.
Robin Dark, Partnership and Learning Projects Manager, spoke about the Bradford Science Festival. Their approach to taking the science outside of the museum to Broadway Shopping Center and Centenary Square means that learning has never been more accessible. As Jo Quinton-Tulloch put it “We don’t lecture, we inform and inspire”.
Last, but by no means least, Professor Candy Rowe was kind enough to give a talk about Gender and Diversity in Research. Coming all the way from Newcastle University she was able to start a very spirited conversation around the theme of “Why should we care about equality, diversity and inclusion”.
You will agree that Day 2 was intense. There was nothing left to do but blow off some steam with the quintessential yule-tide pastime, Christmas crackers. The Midland Hotel was kind enough to host us for dinner over a festive menu and cracking crackers. Pardon the pun.