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October 2012

Get your gloves on!

Posted by Danielle Cowell on 26 October 2012
Planting your bulbs - Powerpoint
Planting in Stanford in the Vale School.
Edina Trust - extra experiment flower bed.

Two thousand bulbs being planted in Scotland today! Good luck Scotland and please wrap up warm as the temperature is a chilly 3 or 4 degrees! Temperatures across the UK have fallen dramatically today making it feel very much like winter.

Welsh and English schools are finishing up for half term and all the schools are preparing for recording their 1st weather records on the 5th of November! 

Click here for info on keeping weather records

Click here to ensure fair test when planting your bulbs

Please take a look at these lovely pics sent in by Stanford in the Vale Primary School.

Many thanks

Professor Plant




Half term fun in the Ty Gwyrdd!

Posted by Hywel Couch on 25 October 2012
The Ty Gwyrdd at St Fagans Museum
Come along to the Ty Gwyrdd to make a bat lilke this one!
Chutneys that were made as part of Autumn Feast earlier this month

Next week is half term and that means there will be lots going on at the T? Gwyrdd at St Fagans. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday next week, 30th and 31st of October, we will be celebrating Halloween by dedicating two days of activities to some of our favourite residents of the museum. We have many species of bat living at St Fagans and there will be a chance to find out much more about these fascinating creatures! What facts do you know about bats? How many of these are true and how many are myths?? 

With the help of our team of volunteers, including Anne-mie who's an artist, we will also be creating a batty art installation in the T? Gwyrdd. We are hoping to create a large willow bat which we can hang in the house and surround with many, many baby bats! We need your help so that we can make as many of these baby bats as possible! As you can see from the picture, these will all be made from recycled newspaper, elastic bands and pipe cleaners! 

Next week also sees St Fagans’ Halloween Nights events. The museum will be open after dark with many activities taking place. Again, we will be championing the bat with some crafty activities taking place each night. Halloween Nights take place between Tuesday the 30th of October and Thursday the 1st of November. Tickets MUST be purchased in advance. Click here for more info  

Towards the end of next week we will be leaving Halloween behind and taking a look at some of the brilliant foodstuffs that are in season at this time of year! On Friday and Saturday (2nd & 3rd of November) I will be cooking up a treat in the T? Gwyrdd kitchen using some traditional recipes and ingredients grown in the T? Gwyrdd garden! Come along to taste some chutneys, soup and maybe even some cakes! There will also be recipe sheets that you can take home to try out some of the recipes for yourself! 

All in all, next week promises to be very busy but lots of fun with plenty going on, so why not pop over to the T? Gwyrdd to see us!

A fair-test for forty five thousand fingers!

Posted by Danielle Cowell on 22 October 2012
Tiny crocuses about to be put in their pots at St Josephs.
Carefully measuring the soil.
Topping-up the pots with soil after adding the bulbs.
Super scientists at Stepaside!
» View full post to see all images

Four and a half thousand school scientists across England and Wales planted bulbs for a climate investigation being run by Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.

Each pupil planted their bulbs and followed simple methodology to ensure a fair test. Before planting, they learned how to care for bulbs and completed adoption certificates as a promise to care for their bulbs.

This is just the beggining for this years participants who will be recording flowering times and weather conditions every week until the end of March.

I visited St Joseph's school in Penarth to see how they were getting along and was amazed by how excited and involved in the project they were. Mrs Dunstan has done a great job working with the class to create a great display about the project. On questioning, it was clear that the class knew they were helping with a larger experiment and what it was about.

I was delighted to hear a Yr.3 pupil question "Is it a fair-test if all Scottish schools are planting a week later?" It showed that she was really thinking about the logistics of this large scale study. I explained that the Scottish schools had to plant on another date because their holiday dates are quite different to those in England and Wales and that we would look at the Scottish data separately as a result.  After our discussion we went outside to do the planting - see my pictures.

Meanwhile in West Wales, Stepaside School were also busy planting. Here are pictures of the Yr.3 pupils involved this year.

If any other schools have any images they would like to share please send them to me.

Good luck with the planting this week in Scotland - I hope it stays dry!

Many Thanks

Professor Plant 



Solving crimes, exploring trees and using your mobile phone - what does this have to do with numeracy?

Posted by Ciara Hand on 16 October 2012
Investigating different ways of measuring tree height
Yes, it's okay to use your phones in this talk!
Was it you who committed the crime?
Making computer games

Teachers descended on the National Museum Cardiff last weekend to take part in workshops and talks aimed at engaging pupils with numeracy in a fun and creative way.

Prof Chris Budd, BathUniversity, and Rob Eastaway, Maths Inspiration, gave extremely interesting and lively talks covering maths in the modern world, including how google works, and ways of being creative with maths.

The workshops featured teachers programming their own computer games (Technocamps), becoming maths detectives to solve a crime (Techniquest), finding out how technology works (CardiffMetropolitanUniversity), exploring maths in nature (Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales), and discovering ideas for fun and stimulating games (TES Science).

This year’s conference is a partnership between The Association for Science Education Cymru and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. It has been running for the past 4 years and draws in teachers from Wales and England (and even Australia this year!).

Keep your eyes peeled for next year’s conference – we hope to see you then!

Thank you to everyone who made this year’s a success!

Historic Photography Project

Posted by Arabella Calder on 16 October 2012
Large Oak tree in winter at Wyesham, Monmouthshire, photographed by S.G. Charles in 1935.

This work is in copyright, however, the copyright holder could not be traced. If you know who the rightful copyright owner is, please contact National Museum Wales.

Beech woods at Ruperra, photographed by G.T. Flook in 1928.

This work is in copyright, however, the copyright holder could not be traced. If you know who the rightful copyright owner is, please contact National Museum Wales.

Cardiff Castle Keep, by an unknown photographer, early 20th century.

Here at the Museum, we've started digitising some of the images from our historic photographic collections. We have been very fortunate to be given funds from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to carry out this work, and over the last few months we've been busy, putting together a project team, renovating some office space and sourcing the specialist equipment we need to carry out this work.

A lot of the images that we are working with are around 100 years old, and most of the negatives are captured on glass plates, the medium most commonly used prior to the invention of film. So far we have scanned about 250 images. Some of these show Cardiff Castle during excavation work in the grounds. These photographs were mostly taken around 1901 and they include some striking pictures of the Castle Keep completely covered in shrubs and ivy, looking very different to how local residents know it today.

We have also digitised a collection of glass plate negatives of 'Notable trees of England and Wales' some of which date back to the 1890s. There are some beautiful images contained in this collection, including oak trees with immense canopies and ancient beech woods. We have shared these photographs with some local tree experts and they have helped us to pinpoint the locations of some of these trees. In some cases, if the tree is still there, they have helped us to compare our glass plate negatives with contemporary photographs of the tree to see how it has changed over the last 100 years.

We have plenty more images to scan and I'll be providing updates on our progress as we work our way through the collections. But in the meantime, here are a few of our favourite pictures so far.

Twelve thousand bulbs prepare to land in schools across the UK!

Posted by Danielle Cowell on 11 October 2012
Professor Plant and Baby Bulb
Springfields daffodil farm in Manorbier - where the bulbs were grown.
Investigation pack sent to each school - Funded by the Edina Trust - many thanks Edina!
Leaf letters sent to me by St Joseph's primary.
» View full post to see all images

This week, six and a half thousand young scientists across the UK are getting ready for the big bulb planting day.

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! I may suggest a new category to the Guiness book of records...

All the bulbs have been counted up and are steadily being delivered to the 120 schools across the country. I'd like to welcome each an every pupil and teacher who will be working on this project! If you haven't already recieved 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 

The children of St. Joseph's School in Penarth were very excited to read my letter and are very keen to help. They have written me some replies on leaf paper and have promised to plant the bulbs and look after them. Thanks so much St.Joseph's I love these, great idea!

Before you adopt your bulb you may also wish to know where it's come from. My 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, we are one of the two daffodils that are native to the British Isles".

Just one week until planting now! I can't wait!

Professor Plant 


Old Bones for a New Exhibition

Posted by Julian Carter on 3 October 2012
The Noddle Collection in the condition it was donated to the museum.
Skulls from the collection being cleaned and prepared for display.
A selection of the skulls on display.

More than 20 years ago the Museum was donated a large research collection of animal bones. This had been put together by a veterinary scientist, Dr Barbara Noddle. The collection mainly consists of sheep, goat and cattle bones from many different breeds.

When it was donated the collection was in a poor state and required extensive conservation and curation. Today it is now housed in over 600 boxes at our offsite Collection Centre at Nantgarw, and a database is available on the website.

Over the years the Noddle Collection has mainly been used in zoo-archaeological research – this is the study of animal remains found at archaeological sites. However parts of the collection will soon find their way into the exhibition limelight!

From the 13th October ‘The Wolf Inside’ exhibition opens. This will be looking at animal domestication, focusing on dogs but also exploring other animals such as sheep and chickens. And this is where Barbara’s collection of old bones finds a new use. We are using a range of skulls from the collection to show some of the diversity found in the different breeds of sheep. A range of these skulls have been checked over and polished up ready for public display.

Along with the skulls there will also be a whole range of animal specimens on display from the museums collections, many of which we haven’t had the opportunity to bring out for many years.

The exhibition runs until February next year.

Craftivism at the Food Festival

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 2 October 2012

Did you come to our food festival in September? I hope so as it was such a great event - look out for it next year if you didn't make it.

This summer the Craftivist Collective launched a jamming and sewing project which you can read all about right here and I thought that would fit in perfectly with the food festival, so that's what we did!

The idea is that you make some tomato jam (I am proud to say that I made some all by myself and it tasted good too) following a recipe from an amazing lady called Christine who lives in Africa. Then you embroider a message on a fabric jam lid - maybe something like 'if you don't grow, you don't change' or anything to do with food and global food issues. After you have embroidred your message, pop it on the top, secure it with ribbon and give your pretty jar of jam away! I think the giving it away is the most important part as you are sharing the message, you could give it to your MP or your local shop if you wanted, or just pass it along to friends and family, it all helps spread the word and provides an opportunity for talking about what you eat and where your food comes from.

The project is also linked in with Oxfam and their 'Grow' campaign, and we were lucky enough in St Fagans that Louise from Oxfam was able to come along and lend a hand - she also provided lots of leaflets for further information.

What do you think about the project? did you come to our drop in session? did you make the jam and did you pass your jam along to someone else? I'd love to know!

Summer art activities

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 2 October 2012

How was your summer? it was pretty busy for me!

As usual we ran the art cart in Oriel 1 everyday throughout August and our focus this year was weaving. We mainly did paper plate weaving (or circular weaving) which proved to be really popular with all ages and looks really effective too - I am thinking of doing more of it for Halloween...but in black and orange of course.

Quite a few of the museum attendants helped run the art cart this year too and they also brought different ideas and skills along with them so that there was quite a variety of activities. Elen did some drop spinning with visitors and even showed them how to make their own drop spindle, and Elle showed everyone how to make amazing woven friendship bracelets using a circular piece of card.

In July Ian and I got together to plan and run a two day art activity in the Celtic Village. We decided to make Iron Age shields out of cardboard and to get the visiting children to decorate them with typical iron age patterns using stencils or their own designs.

The activity went really well and we were lucky that it fell on two beautiful sunny days (we were outside). It's definitely an activity we'll be running again

Come September and it was back to running sessions for visiting schools, I've written about my art session called 'Looking at Buildings' so won't go on about it again... just show you some pictures of wonderful drawings instead.

Then I took two weeks off work and went on holiday to San Francisco! and now I'm back and all inspired for more arts and crafts and workshops and everything! There are a few things coming up - the big draw this saturday and next (6+13 oct 2012), a couple of craftivist things (one this sunday 7th in gwdi hw which isn't directly linked with St Fagans, and one on the 20th of October as part of the Made in Roath festival whic is), and then it will be half term and time for Halloween!

phew, happy making!