Volunteer Anna Birt reveals what Explorers has to offer at the new and improved Gloucester Waterways Museum.
At long last, the newly refurbished Waterways Museum at Gloucester has opened. Along with new exhibits for visitors to see, there are some brand new activities which will help with discovering more about our natural environment and also give our brains a good work out by trying some more technical challenges.
As a family attraction, many of our learning elements have been designed to be carried out in mixed age groups. For example, visitors can learn more about fish that live in our canals and rivers; to explore which are native to our country and which breeds have deliberately (or even unintentionally) been let loose in our waters.
Small children will enjoy using magnetic rods for catching fish while older children and adults get to share their knowledge and wisdom to decide whether the fish are native or alien before finding out the facts on the information cards.
Both primary and secondary schools now have to teach science, technology, engineering and maths (or STEM) as part of their curriculum. At the museum, we have an activity that will really get budding engineers putting their thinking caps on.
Anyone who has enjoyed playing with Lego or Meccano will love constructing a model crane out of a variety of cogs, pulleys and wheels. Younger visitors may take the experimental approach to building the most efficient crane whereas more experienced enthusiasts will be able to offer a more tried and tested approach. The aim of the activity is for families to learn together.
We want our visitors to get even closer to their local heritage; so, at the museum some historical objects are available to be handled with enabler supervision (staff and volunteers who have been trained to handle objects correctly). Everyday items that narrow-boat families would have used 100 years ago can now be shown out of their display cases to our visitors. You get to see just how beautifully painted some items are - they must have been just as precious then, as we think they are now.
The Education Team delivers two main learning programmes. Explorers which is aimed at primary school children and uniformed groups, and STEM which is aimed at secondary schools. We provide free, curriculum linked learning resources for teachers and offer a range of outreach sessions to inspire children and young people about our waterways. Our fantastic Education Volunteers deliver sessions on the towpath or in school, bringing the stories of our waterways to life.
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