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October 2013

A Journey from the Amazon to Natural Selection

Posted by Ciara Hand on 10 October 2013

Continuing our celebration of the life of Alfred Russel Wallace...

We welcomed over 300 A-level students to National Museum Cardiff for this special event in partnership with Cardiff University School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.

At the invitation of Prof Dianne Edwards F.R.S, Prof Steve Jones F.R.S gave a talk entitled ‘Is man just another animal?’

Prof Jones discussed our shared ancestry with other primates, the genetic evidence for human evolution, and cast light on Wallace and Darwin’s different views on the subject. Professor Steve Jones is Emeritus Professor of Genetics at University College London and an author of several popular science books.

And Theatr na nÓg gave an excellent performance of their play ‘You Should Ask Wallace’.

The play took us through Wallace’s life as a young boy growing up in Wales to embarking on epic adventures to the Amazon and Malay Archipelago where he discovers the theory of evolution. His great findings would compel Darwin to publish his seminal work on the origin of species.

 

An exhibition on Wallace’s life will open on 19 October at National Museum Cardiff.

Walking in the footsteps of Wallace

Posted by Ciara Hand on 3 October 2013

Last week Museum staff and students from Cantonian High School journeyed to the Neath Valley to explore the life of Alfred Russel Wallace.

We spent a day re-tracing his footsteps from Pontneddfechan up to Sgwd Gwladys waterfall, exploring the geology and biology of the walk, with help from experts from the Natural Sciences department.

On his death 100 years ago, Alfred Russel Wallace was widely praised as the 'last of the great Victorians'. Famous for independently discovering the process of evolution by natural selection alongside Charles Darwin, today few remember this great Welsh scientist.

Wallace was inspired by the landscape of south Wales, and spent many years walking the valleys and mapping the natural history. The student’s photographs, video footage, sketches and interviews will become part of a display at National Museum Cardiff in January 2014. This display aims to tell the story of Wallace in Wales and hopefully inspire others to go and explore for themselves.

This project has been made possible thanks to the generous support of a Life Patron of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

An exhibition on Wallace’s life will open on 19 October at National Museum Cardiff.

An experiment of bulbous proportions!

Posted by Danielle Cowell on 3 October 2013
Professor Plant and Baby Bulb
Springfields daffodil farm in Manorbier - where the bulbs were grown.
Learning volunteers: Bethan Lloyd, Liam Doyle and Claire Amundson
A room full of bulbs.
» View full post to see all images

Hi! I'm Professor Plant and I'd like to welcome the six and a half thousand young scientists across the UK that are taking part in the Spring Bulb for Schools Investigation this year!

Twelve thousand bulbs will be planted and monitored as part of this long term climate investigation being co-ordinated at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales. If there was a world record for the most people planting bulbs simultaneously, (in several locations) we could smash it!

All the bulbs have been counted up by our fantastic volunteers (see the pics) and are steadily being delivered to the 150 schools across the country. I'd like to welcome each an every pupil and teacher who will be working on this project!

  • Take a look at the map to see where the bulbs are being sent across the UK
  • If you haven't already received my letter please follow this link     
  • Before each bulb is planted, each pupil must also adopt their bulb and promise to care for it. If you want to know how see this link

If you are wondering where the bulbs came from and how they got to your school - please read then read on y friend Baby Bulb is going to explain:

"My bulb buddies and I come from a nursery plantation in Manorbier, near Tenby in Wales, it's called 'Springfields'. We didn't spring from the fields, but we were picked and loaded onto a van ready to go to our new homes. At first I was a little afraid, but then when I met Professor Plant at the Museum I understood that I would be cared for by a nice young person and that I have an important job to do. We have all been selected to help us understand how the weather can affect when my friends and I make flowers. My parents before me grew here too, Springfields have been growing us 'Tenby Daffodils' for about 25 years, and we are one of the two daffodils that are native to the British Isles".

Just a few weeks until planting now! I can't wait!

Professor Plant

September 2013

Beachwatch 2013 - a great success

Posted by Katie Mortimer-Jones on 24 September 2013
Beachwatch family activities, seaweed identification
Beachwatch family activities, making Plaster of Paris seashells and fossils
Beachwatch 2013 beach clean volunteers and rubbish!

On Saturday 21st September Amgueddfa Cymru ran their annual Beachwatch event. This involved fantastic family science activities in the morning attended by 41 members of the public and seven members of staff. Participants looked at strandline and rockpool animals and seaweeds as well as fossilised corals and snails. Inspired by the fossils and shells that they had seen, the children went on to create wonderful pieces of artwork using Plaster of Paris on the wet sand of the beach.

After lunch, the volunteers gathered to clean the beach and do a litter survey recording all the items they found. The beach clean was attended by 59 volunteers including many of the families from the morning activities.

The results will be sent to the Marine Conservation Society who will collect the data from this beach and hundreds of other UK beaches that were cleaned this weekend. As well as making the beach safer for people and marine life, the Marine Conservation Society also use the data to find out where beach litter comes from and contribute to marine conservation.

As you can see from the photo we found a lot of rubbish including 9 tyres, half a canoe and a traffic cone! A huge thank you to our wonderful volunteers, Ogmore Beach now looks even more beautiful!

3 days to Beachwatch!

Posted by Katie Mortimer-Jones on 18 September 2013

BEATCHWATCH – Saturday 21 September

10.30am – 12pm. Amgueddfa Cymru staff will be running  fun family activities for the public to  help them learn about the biology and geology of Ogmore beach. They will be looking at rock pools, strandlines, rocks and fossils along the shore.This year we will also have a fun ART activity involving plaster of paris and seashells. These morning activities are now fully booked, but you can still come along in the afternnoon to help out with the beach clean.

1pm – 2.30pm. Help with the Marine Conservation Society’s annual beach clean (Open to all).

Where: Ogmore Beach, Vale of Glamorgan. Meeting on the beach at Ogmore beach car park – down the ramp in front of the lifeguard centre.

Suitable for all ages, hope to see you there.

A batty summer at St Fagans!

Posted by Hywel Couch on 12 September 2013
Lesser Horseshoe Bat at the Tannery
Firemen tackling the fire at the Tannery
Look at all the smoke!

I don’t know about you, but I cannot believe how quickly August flew by! It seems as if it was only yesterday that schools were breaking up, but now it is already time for us to welcome school visits again for a brand new school year! 

This summer was slightly different for myself in St Fagans. Due to the redevelopment project we have lost use of the Tŷ Gwyrdd eco house, so our summer events this year had a slightly more nomadic feel than normal! It was nice to visit other parts of the museum and to explore some of the wildlife found in different places. 

In total this summer, around 1000 people took part in a variety of nature activities within the museum, from minibeast bug hunts in the woods to our very popular twilight bat walks around the site.

The summer began with us re-opening the bird hide at its new location near Hendre Wen barn. After initial worries of whether we would attract similar numbers of birds as the previous location, I was very relieved after spending 30 minutes in the hide and spotting 11 different species. Hopefully we will continue to attract such a wide variety of birds to our feeders. The bird hide is open every day, so on your next visit be sure to pop in and see what you spot! 

In August we had a bit of a bat scare at the Tannery. The Tannery building is home to a roost of rare Lesser Horseshoe bats. A small electrical fire broke out one morning in the room directly below the roof space where the bats normally roost. Thankfully a quick response from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service ensured that the fire did not spread. Luckily, the bats had flown to an area of the building unaffected by the fire. The story even made it onto the BBC website! Thanks to Anwen for the pictures!

The bats have now returned to their normal roosting spot and they seem to have been largely unaffected by the event. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for our bat camera which is situated in the building. A combination of smoke and water damage means that we will have to replace the camera, which we will be doing as soon as possible! 

Bats at St Fagans seem to be going from strength to strength. We have 11 of the 18 British species known roosting within the museum grounds, including the elusive Nathusius Pipistrelle bat which has been found roosting in 2 of our buildings. Previous to this, there were only 2 known roosting locations for this species in the whole of Wales. This story also made the news recently! 

This year we held 3 Twilight Batwalks, all of which booked up well in advance. Thanks to all who came and apologies to anyone who tried to book but were unable to! Next year we are planning on having 4 walks throughout August, with the possibility of more depending on demand! If you came on one of our batwalks, or took part in any nature events this summer, please let us know what you though, either by commenting here or sending an us an email! 

Finally a big thanks to our new team of volunteers who helped out over the summer! Having an extra pair or two of hands during workshops and events is invaluable and means that we can offer a better experience to our visitors. I look forward to working with you again in the near future!

August 2013

They're flying reptiles ... (not dinosaurs!)

Posted by Grace Todd on 23 August 2013

Our penultimate family activity has gone down really well, with grown ups and children really getting into this simple activity. Hundreds of visitors have been very creative with pipecleaners, cards and pegs as these photos show. And even more satisfying is that everyone has gone home with the clear learning message that while pterosaurs were alive at the same time as dinosaurs they were a different species entirely!

For even more photos of all our family activities visit our flickr page

http://www.flickr.com/photos/88072847@N05/

Next week is the activity I'm most looking forward to, designing our own pop art inspired record sleeves. My only fear is that some visitors might not know what a record is so I'll be bringing in a record player and some of my records!

July 2013

week one of summer 2013

Posted by Grace Todd on 26 July 2013
a family of bronze age styling
Families getting creative

It hasn't been our busiest week in terms of numbers but I can't blame our visitors for wanting to make the most of the lovely weather. Not being as frantic as we often are has meant that families have been able to spend a long time engaging with some lovely handling objects and learnt a lot about Bronze Age design. I have been tweeting pictures of people's creations every day, but here are two photos from the week.

 

Tomorrow we change activities to look at and make our own Bronze Age shields.

Also I wanted to mention a very exciting family treasure hunt we are running throughout the museum during the school holidays. Cardiff Bay Rotary Club have kindly donated some book tokens as prizes. Come and see us for more information.

Have a nice weekend

 

Gearing up for a summer of family learning activities

Posted by Grace Todd on 18 July 2013
Summer fun

Here in the Clore Discovery Centre we've been running round like crazy preparing to deliver a busy programme of Family Learning workshops throughout the summer holidays. Starting on Saturday 20th July we'll be running a different workshop every week for six weeks.

Have a look at the photo below for a taste of what we (you!) will be creating!

Every workshop links to an exhibtion,display or collection at National Museum Cardiff. The schedule for the six weeks is:

 

Week 1 (July 20th - 26th)Dress to Impress Bronze Age Style Visit the Mold Cape for inspiration to create your own lunula

Week 2 (July27th - Aug 2nd) Dress to Impress Bronze Age Style Visit the Mold Cape for inspiration to create your own Bronze Age Shield

Week 3 (Aug 3rd - 9th) Fishing for the Future
Discover what you can do to protect the fish in our seas and make some fish-inspired art to take home.

Week 4 (Aug 10th - 16th) Mughal India
Make your own story inspired by work in the exhibition.

Week 5 (Aug 17th - 23rd) Flying Lizards
Find out more about Pterosaurs and make a flying lizard to take home.

Week 6 (Aug 24th - Sept 1st) Pop Art
Make your own vinyl album cover inspired by works of art from the ‘Swinging Sixties’.

These workshops will happen in the Clore Discovery Centre between 11am and 4pm

They are free, and are drop in sessions which means places may be limited at times! But worry not, we have a gallery full of awe inspring museum objects for you to explore through handling, as well as plenty of trails and worksheets.

Hope to see you during the Summer!

Dont forget to follow @cloreexplorer

Beans on Toast

Posted by Ciara Hand on 9 July 2013
Beans on Toast
Art Work

3 primary schools took part in activities exploring the new Beans on Toast exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff last week.

Pupils from Windsor Clive Primary School, Trelai Primary School and Ysgol Wirfoddol Abergwili explored where in the world our food comes from and how we can make sustainable choices about the food we buy. They then worked with an artist to create a 'World Food Stall' display to encourage discussion on the issues of food security back in school.

Funding was received to work with the artist through the British Ecological Society.

The exhibition will be open until 29 September 2013. Contact the Learning Department 029 2057 3240 if you would like to take part in future activities.

http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/whatson/?event_id=6501