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November 2013

Planting and measuring

Posted by Danielle Cowell on 13 November 2013
'We had a lovely Autumn afternoon planting our daffodil and crocus bulbs.' SS Philip and James CE Primary School
We managed to get a dry spell this afternoon to get our bulbs planted. The children had a brilliant time and are really excited and enthusiastic about the project. Brunshaw Primary School
The weather was kind to us! Looking forward to our observations and recording. Stanford in the Vale school.
» View full post to see all images

All the bulbs are now tucked safely into the soil! Over 6,000 in total were planted across the UK by the Super Scientists that have begun keeping weather records to investigate climate change.

The weather on the week of planting was very wet but despite this the pupils got outside and enjoyed gardening. The pupils created labels for their plants and adopted them and will care for them until they flower next spring. See some of the pictures sent in from schools.

Last week schools began keeping weather records. They are learning how to record temperatures and measure rainfall. They then upload these records to our website using their ICT skills. So far, I’ve received fifty four records - which is amazing! Keep up the good work bulb buddies!

I'd like to say a special hello to Isaac from Lancashire who visited Cardiff Museum over half term and popped in to say hello. Unfortunately, I was working planting our new Urban Meadow and so missed Isaac but I did get the lovely note. Sorry I missed you Isaac - hope you enjoyed your visit to Cardiff.

Professor Plant.

Your comments - my answers:

SS Philip and James CE Primary School: We're not sure our laminated labels will survive the winter so we wrote our names on the lollypop sticks and on the side of the pots in case the pictures fall off. Any other advice welcome! Here are some comments from the children: "I really liked comparing the size of the bulbs." "I enjoyed seeing the pointy part of the daffodil peeping through the compost." "Putting the soil in and getting my hands messy was the best bit". "It was really cool." Prof.P: Glad you enjoyed planting. Keeping the tags on the labels is tricky. I think what you have done is great. Some schools use a permanent white marker pen to write on the pots.

Kilmaron Special School: This year we have planted our bulbs in 4 different places to see if they grow better at the front of the school or at the back. We have planted some in the bulbs in a new bed and some in old beds to see if the soil makes a difference. Prof P: Great investigative skills Kilmaron - please let us know if you see any changes and if they are as you predict?

Glyncollen Primary School: Our bulbs are in good condition. We enjoyed planting them and can't wait to see them grow. Prof.P: Glad the bulbs are doing well and that you are enjoying the project again at Glyncollen.

Greyfriars RC Primary School: I am really enjoying it thank you for last year. I'm loving the bulbs mine are called Earl and Willum. Prof.P: I'm delighted to hear you enjoyed and are continuing to this year at Greyfriars.

Ladywell Primary School: We are really enjoying looking after the bulbs. We will be a few days behind everyone else as unfortunately they were knocked down and we had to replant the bulbs. We are thankful that you gave us more bulbs because they were destroyed. We are also thankful for including us in the project. Prof.P: Glad you got the bulbs and more importantly that you haven't given up!

Bleasdale CE Primary School: We have been scaring away the slugs! Prof.P: Many gardeners will be very interested to know how you are doing this Bleasdale. Let me know.

Raglan VC Primary: We removed lots of fallen leaves from the top of the pots. No watering required this week.

Ysgol Bro Eirwg: Ar ddydd Mercher cafon ni 19cm o law, sef 190mm - mae'r siart dim ond yn mynd i 100mm! Hefyd ar ddydd Gwener cafon ni 11cm o law, sef 110mm, yr un broblem gyda'r siart! Diolch Athro.Ardd: Llawer iawn o glaw! Wnai newid y furflen we - diolch.

Woodplumpton St. Anne's Primary School: It's interesting to see the difference between the highest and the lowest temperatures in one week.  We are very excited to be taking part in the project. We want to know what will happen. Prof.P: Hopefully in the spring you will have some beautiful flowers!

Culross Primary School: We are going to send our weather reports on Monday’s. On Friday the rainfall was 10 mm because it was hailstones on Thursday evening. Prof.P: Wow hailstones already! We had some in Cardiff too - I got soaked!

Burscough Bridge Methodist School: There was a high amount of rainfall this week and due to the weather conditions over Wednesday night the gauges tipped and lost the contents. Prof.P: I use a big lump of clay to help keep my rain gauge in place but most days it should be fine in the soil.

 

 

Spooky Specimens!

Posted by Katie Mortimer-Jones on 8 November 2013
Botanists at work
Bats and Insects
Fungus!
Fungus models made by the general public
» View full post to see all images

On Wednesday 30th October, National Museum Cardiff came alive for a haunting day of Halloween fun. Curators (and witches!) from the Natural History department filled the main hall with spooky specimens from our collections to share with the public on a busy half term day.

The botanists made a real impression by opening up the Herbarium and creating a spooky graveyard of deadly plants. This was a real hit with the children who left repeating some of the delightfully ghoulish names to their parents such as “Stinking Hellebore!” and  “Bloody Cranesbill!”

The Fungus table had a case of wonderful wax models where you could match each fungus with its creepy name, such as the Trumpet of Death, Scaly Tooth and Witch Heart. Children, and adults, could make their own fungus with the colourful modelling clay provided, creating some amazing new species!

Two witches stirred their potion in a cauldron alongside an eerie ‘Herbs in Medicine and Magic’ display.  All Harry Potter fans would have immediately recognised the famous Mandrake, a plant often used in magic rituals due to its hallucinogenic properties, but there was no need for ear muffs as the real plant does not let out a fatal scream!

Marine and Mollusc curators put out an array of Halloween treats from ghost slugs and dead man’s fingers to blood cockles and pumpkin snails. Visitors enjoyed being able to touch sea urchins, spiny oysters and star fish. The pickled cuttlefish and squid were a real treat and produced a great mixed response, from awe to disgust, from children and adults alike.

The giant bloodsucking mosquito model dominated the Entomology stand whilst a witch displayed a table of British bats, from the largest Noctule to the smallest Pipistrelle.

Geologists enticed visitors with ‘fossils in folklore’, including echinoderms that were thought to be ‘fairy loaves’, and ‘dragon claws’ that come from dinosaurs. Those brave enough stayed to see the ‘Hell, Fire and Brimestone!’ stand which revealed specimens of larva, ash and volcanic rocks.

The Open Day was underpinned with an educational trail provided by the Education department. The trail took children around all of the displays, answering questions on blood stained petals and thunder stones, fungal fingers and tails of worms, to name a few. It was an excellent way to get families involved and encouraged children to interact with the curators. The trail proved to be extremely popular with 170 families taking part.

For those who wanted to know more, there was a scary ‘Dragons’ tour in the Evolution of Wales gallery and two behind the scenes tours of the Biology and Geology collections.

The day was a real success with 3127 members of the public coming through the museum doors. So, if you didn’t make it this time keep your eyes peeled on the ‘What’s On’ guide  for more upcoming Natural History Open Days throughout the year.

Blog by Harriet Wood

October 2013

The big plant

Posted by Danielle Cowell on 16 October 2013
Planting your bulbs - Powerpoint

Just five days now until the big planting week which will take place all over the UK as part of the Spring Bulbs for Schools investigation! I do hope the weather is kind to us!

Six and a half thousand pupils will plant bulbs as the 1st step in this exciting climate investigation.

English and Welsh schools will be planting on the 21st of October and Scottish schools on the 25th.

To all of you planting:

  • Remember to make your labels before you plant!
  • Please read this before Planting your bulbs to ensure a fair-test!
  • Please send me or Tweet me pictures of your class planting to use in this blog.

My Twitter account is www.twitter.com/professor_plant

Good luck bulb buddies!

Professor Plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things I've been doing part two...

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 14 October 2013

Claire's mini fashion protest banner

Alice and Claire sewing in the sun

Lots of craftivists sewing in the Italian Gardens

» View full post to see all images

So part one of my epic sharing of photos with you looked at our summer art and craft activities. Part two is all about the food festival and a couple of craftivist sessions.

On a lovely sunny day up in the Italian gardens we had a picnic and took part in the Craftivist Collective project all about fashion. The project is all about how we love fashion and hate sweatshops, and as part of our event we talked about where we buy our clothes and what we can do to help the situation. It definitely made us all think more about ethical fashion and sustainability!

Another Craftivist project we've been a part of this year is the #imapiece jigsaw project. Earlier in the year we had a session where we made fabric jigsaw pieces embroidered with messages about global hunger and sent them to the craftivist collective to be a part of a huge installation. Just a couple of weeks ago we got a part of the installation back (300 pieces out of a whopping 700 or so) and exhibited it in St Fagans: National History Museum. We have also been adding to the installation ourselves, it will be up for a few days yet, so come and see it and let me know if you would like to add your own message.

For the food festival this year, myself and genius gardener Bernice made herbal teabags! Bernice picked and dried mint, lemon balm, fennel seeds and Elderflower from the gardens here in the museum and then we bought some teabags to fill and made little envelopes to put the teabags in for safe keeping, or as a sweet gift. We also made sure we had a pot of tea on the go all day and almost everyone liked our blend!

The last thing I wanted to tell you about is the Wedding Fayre that was held here a couple of weeks ago. You probably already know that you can get married here in St Fagans, either in the castle or in Oakdale. Well, now you can also have a hen afternoon tea party as well! as part of this tea party you can learn to dance, have hair and make-up done (vintage style), or get all crafy with me! The photos show what kind of things we could make... tissue pom-poms, name places, bunting... it will be lovely and I can't wait to take part!

That's all for today, but I do have some knit and sew group photos to share next time, and look out for half term halloween arts and crafts and quilt club on the 2nd and november. Happy Autumn!

Things I've been doing part one....

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 14 October 2013

It's always good to think about your design first before launching in with the paint.

This is the one that looks like a Chagall!

» View full post to see all images

I've been taking photographs of all the activities I've been a part of, but keep forgetting to update the blog with them. Therefore this is going to have to be a two-parter as I have so much stuff to update you all with.

Ok. Let's go:

Our summer art cart activities included the super successful Iron Age shield making workshop. Ian (the celtic guy) and I spent two days running the workshop and we were really lucky to have volunteers on hand too as with all the glue, paint and celtic pattern designing it was pretty crazy. As you can see from the pictures, the finished results were just beautiful. I love the one that looks like maybe Chagall had a hand in it.

Artist Tracey Williams made the most wonderful house out of cardboard with visitors over the summer, inspired by our buildings on site. It was a lovely community project which I stupidly don't have any photos of!

I spent the rest of august doing a variety of art and craft workshops - we did some sketching of nature in the bird hide, made dragonflies out of wooden pegs and did gorgeous drawings and collages of the lily pads in the Italian Gardens with a bit of inspiration from Monet. We also did some sewing and made felt flower badges which were really popular.

If you took part in any of these activities, do you have any photographs you could share? and what did you think of our locations this year? was it fun going to the Italian gardens (I know I enjoyed it) or was it too far away from the main entrance? let me know!

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.

  • National Museum Cardiff

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