This is the second part of my blog about my visit to science museum MUSE, Trento as part of my Learn To Engage Science Communication Module. This installement will look at their Fab Lab facilities, tinkering sessions and MUSE education workshops.
MUSE Fab Lab is a digital manufacturing workspace situated within the heart of the museum. The space is open to sharing and collaborating with different users such as companies, families and schools that contribute to research and prototyping. The laboratory has pieces of high tech equipment such as: 3D printers (even one for chocolate!), laser cutters, and a vinyl cutting machine. If you are a member of the museum you are able to book into use the Lab and just pay for the cost of material. It is brilliant that the lab is not behind closed doors, because regular visitors can also see what is being made. This form of science communication is intriguing to the visitors because it inspires curiosity to investigate what is happening. It is also a great resource to users, who would probably not have access to this sort of technology and support anywhere else. It is something that can be echoed in other places in the form of open doors day events, offering an alternative view of how the heritage site works behind the scenes.
We also took part in a “tinkering session”, this included using remote control cars, working together using electrical currents to play a game of Pac-Man, and building structures through play. (Which is very therapeutic!) The session was a chance to break down barriers within our group, and work together to be creative and solve puzzles. The act of tinkering is something that adults often do not get chance to do and it is a great way to refresh soft skills. This session also showed me that you are never too old to learn and engage through play! Adults may even enjoy our bridge building workshop that we have on offer at our Visitor Centre.
Workshops at MUSE
MUSE have a huge science education program for schools. We were given the opportunity to view some of the workshop materials and talk to the education leaders. The workshops included:
-How a seed grows: from identification of the type of seed to how and why the plant grows and flowers. This workshop for primary aged students involved wearing an apron and collecting attachable flower parts as you complete the workshop.
-How to build a city: recognising how to map a city, its building and ecosystem and why they are important to their inhabitants.
-What animal poo is made of: Understanding the diet and consistency of a variety of animal poo!
These workshops have demonstrated how being outdoors, hands on and using real objects can enhance learning. It goes without saying that museum education workshops must be inspiring and an absolute alternative environment from the class room. Museums have an opportunity to fully facilitate learning in a whole new immersive way, ensuring that content will be memorable and make an impact on the student’s way of thinking. Taking this forward within the context of the Clifton Suspension Bridge education program I would like to collaborate with our Archivist and Bridgemaster to improve workshop content and introduce real life archival objects for students to handle and discuss. The Bridgemaster is the ultimate contemporary representation of the bridge and using her status and character to relay engineering stories would be a new voice to add to our workshops.
My next and final post will take a look at Extreme Science communication!