Monthly Archives: May 2012

Climate Science Outreach: School students’ take on climate stories

Post written by José Monteiro (Climate Science Outreach officer)

Bees, bikes, cows, planes and burning poo.  You will be able to read all about these and many other climate science stories in the special edition of the ATMOS magazine. To make it even more exciting, all these stories were written by Year 9 students from all over the UK.

But how did this happen?

In the Climate Science Outreach project we teamed up with other museums and science centres across the UK. We then welcomed students from 51 schools to take on the role of science communicators.

Students enjoying a Punk Science show to gather information

We always like everyone to have fun and get hands-on with science. That’s why at the beginning of each year, our students watch a fun packed Punk Science show to get enough info to get started. Then we challenged them to write a news story about climate change in their local area.  We gave them a little bit of help on what makes a good news story and our designer made the pages look nice and sleek but everything else is of their own making. Our students found exciting stories, interviewed experts, took photos and pieced it all together.

Once we began seeing the really amazing and original work from our students, we got very excited! There are many fascinating stories on all kinds of unexpected subjects and it was impressive to see how engaged young people can be with contemporary science.

You can have a look at the ATMOS magazine and exhibition as we tour with some of our partner museums and science centres on the following dates:

·    National Railway Museum, York: 13-16 June
·    At-Bristol, Bristol: 20-24 June
·    Science Museum, London: 27-30 June
·    Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester: 4-9 July

You can also see the students’ work at the adult-only Science Museum Lates on the 27th of June.

Students practice putting their stories together

If you would like your students to get involved or know more about this project, you can visit our educators’ page. And do come along to see our exhibition and grab yourself a copy of the ATMOS magazine.

Explainer Fact: The ATMOS magazine is over 100 pages long and even includes word puzzles made by students.  José also cycles to work, reducing this carbon footprint.

Eric Schmidt at the Science Museum talking about Why Science Matters

Google’s Eric Schmidt extols the importance of Science Museums

Eric Schmidt at the Science Museum talking about Why Science MattersTonight in front of an influential audience at our Imax theatre, Eric Schmidt discussed the importance of Science Museums.

Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt described the extraordinarily important role of museums in inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.  Eric Schmidt spoke passionately about why science matters “Science illuminates the world and gives us the building blocks to transform our lives. The fundamental advances in human industry – from building ships to building genomes, from spinning jennies to spinning quarks – have a foundation in science.”

Expanding on why he had chosen to make his follow up to last year’s MacTaggart Lecture at the Science Museum in London, Schmidt said that “Museums do more than entertain and teach, they also open peoples eyes to career opportunities. The Museum we’re in today is a great illustration… It is a place to cherish, but more importantly a place to inspire. This is a remarkable venue, and I say that as someone who has visited a lot of museums.”

“It is full of memories of so many inventions – indeed, so many British inventions…Today nearly 3 million people pass through its doors each year, two-thirds in groups with children.”

When it comes to computer literacy, he listed a range of initiatives that have emerged since his MacTaggart lecture, including a report produced by NESTA and the Science Museum on the remarkable legacy of the BBC Micro project’s legacy and lessons for today. 

Mr Schmidt touched on two projects opening at the Science Museum which Google are supporting. The first is a new biographical exhibition about Alan Turing’s life and legacy opening on June 20th.  The second project is the development of a new exhibition about modern communications. The Gallery opens in 2014 and brings to life moments when the world changed dramatically through the invention of technologies such as the laying of the first transatlantic telegraph cable; the creation of the first digital electronic computer; the development of mobile communications and the advent of the World Wide Web.


BBC Microcomputer

Legacy of the BBC Micro

Written by Tilly Blyth, Curator of Computing and Information


Today Nesta and the Science Museum are publishing a report on the legacy of the BBC Micro. Based on research at the BBC’s Written Archives Centre and the online public questionnaire we ran back in March 2012, the report looks at the legacy of computer and the BBC’s broader Computer Literacy Project. We received 372 responses to the questionnaire, with many people leaving detailed responses about their experiences of using computers in the 1980s and the influence it had on their subsequent careers paths.

Despite the BBC Micro being remembered as a schools machine, the report shows that the Computer Literacy Project initially aimed to improve adult computer literacy in the home. It was supported by a range of materials, distributed across a multitude of channels, and enabled local networks to deliver learning directly to many different audiences.

The report also highlights how the Computer Literacy Project had significant economic benefits, creating an increasingly skilled population and stimulating a high technology innovation cluster aroundCambridge. It suggests that any new initiatives which aim to increase computer literacy, such as the Raspberry Pi, should include the need for a strong vision for computer literacy, leadership to coordinate activities, and a desire to create change in the home as well as schools.

The report is available through the Nesta website:

Will Smith meets a group of school children and Science Museum Director Ian Blatchford beside the Apollo 10 command module on a visit to the Science Museum, London.

Why Will Smith chose the Science Museum

Will Smith, Hollywood actor, producer and rapper, visited the Science Museum yesterday for a special charity premiere of Men in Black 3 for schoolchildren from diverse backgrounds.

The children gasped, cheered and waved when the two-time Oscar nominee walked into the museum’s packed IMAX theatre.

In a question and answer session before the premiere, the 43-year-old told the audience that he was keen that the event was in the Science Museum ‘because of my passion for math and science.’

‘I’m very excited to be here’ said Smith, who had earlier met the Director of the Science Museum Group, Ian Blatchford, next to the museum’s Apollo 10 command module.

Will Smith meets a group of school children and Science Museum Director Ian Blatchford beside the Apollo 10 command module on a visit to the Science Museum, London.

MIB3  features time travel back to 1969, when Apollo 10 staged the dress rehearsal for the first manned moon landing.

‘My best subject at school was math’ explained the star of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.’ What would have become of the Hollywood actor if he had not become a global celebrity?

Smith told the Science Museum audience that he would have gone into computer engineering.

As he left the Queen’s Gate entrance to the museum he waved at members of the British Science Association. ‘Will Smith loves science,” tweeted one.

Two musicians exploring an object from our collection of musical instruments during the Oramics to Electronica project.

Science Museum History Open House – 16 June 2012

Two musicians exploring an object from our collection of musical instruments during the Oramics to Electronica project. (Science Museum)


Are you an arts organisation in search of inspiration?

Is your local history society researching your science and technology heritage?

Or are you a patient group interested in the history of a medical profession or practice?


 The Science Museum wants to encourage community groups, enthusiast groups and local historians to use the museum’s resources as part of their historical research.

 The Museum has a vast collection of objects and archives representing the history of Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine in theUK. When we make exhibitions or carry out research, our collections, library and archive are an important source of information and inspiration. But access to these resources is not limited to Science Museum staff. We regularly support research by students and academics, but also subject enthusiasts and community groups.

 During the Science Museum History Open House  on Saturday 16 June we will give an introduction to the Science Museum’s collections and ways in which they can be accessed. You will hear about projects we have supported in the past and will have the opportunity to explore some of the objects and archive materials that might be relevant to you.

 There will also be a chance to find out more about the All Our Stories grant scheme. With this scheme the Heritage Lottery Fund wants to support community groups who want to explore, share and celebrate their heritage.


 Attendance is free, but places are limited. We advise that a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 members of your society or group attend.

Please register by sending an email to

To help us plan the event, please include the name of your group or society and specify your area of interest.


 Members of the British Vintage Wireless Society researching the museum’s collection of early radios. (Science Museum)


The Science Museum has a wide range of historic collections; from steam engine models, to planes, historic domestic appliances and medical equipment. More information about our collections can be found here.

 The Science Museum Library and Archives hold papers of individuals and companies, such as Charles Babbage, Sir Humphry Davy and Hooper & Co (coachbuilders), as well as original printed materials, such as books, papers and patents. Follow this link for more information.

Science Museum Annual Dinner 2012

Hawking and Heuer awarded Science Museum Fellowships

By Roger Highfield

Professors Stephen Hawking and Rolf-Dieter Heuer have been made Fellows of the Science Museum, the highest accolade that the Museum can bestow upon an individual.

The awards, which are made to individuals who have had an exceptional influence on modern culture, reflect Prof Hawking’s pioneering research on quantum gravity and his remarkable success in popularising cosmology, notably with A Brief History of Time, as celebrated by an exhibition at the Museum earlier this year.

In the case of Prof Heuer, the fellowship honours his position as the Director General of CERN, in Geneva, where he leads an army of 10,000 scientists and engineers who work in the greatest intellectual adventure on the planet, the Large Hadron Collider.

The awards, which culminated in a standing ovation for Prof Hawking, were made before an audience of more than 400 at the Annual Dinner of the Science Museum by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Douglas Gurr, and handed to them by the Director of the Science Museum Group, and of the Museum itself, Ian Blatchford.

Among the black tie audience was Nobel laureate and Museum Fellow Sir Tim Hunt, Science Minister David Willetts, former Directors Sir Neil Cossons and Prof Chris Rapley, Trustee Janet Street-Porter, biographers Graham Farmelo and Tom Bower, comedian John Sessions and TV presenters Adam Rutherford, Gia Milinovich and Samira Ahmed.

The Science Museum is working with CERN to create a touring temporary exhibition that will open in London in Autumn 2013 and allow visitors to experience what it feels like to operate the biggest scientific experiment on the planet, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

‘The Science Museum is among the world’s leading centres for public engagement with science,’ said Heuer, who made a passionate speech about the role the LHC can play in helping to reengage society in this science-dominated age. ‘I’m very pleased for CERN to be working with the museum on this important new touring exhibition about the LHC.’”

In the LHC, a giant particle collider, scientists and engineers work at the extremes of temperature, vacuum and energy to recreate conditions not seen since just after the Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago. The museum is collaborating with theatre and digital producers to create an immersive experience and give visitors a close-up look at remarkable examples of the collider’s engineering, from the bottle of hydrogen gas that feeds the great machine to its vast and powerful magnets.

The exhibition will feature many historic objects from the Museum’s world leading collections, including JJ Thomson’s apparatus which led to the discovery of the electron, and the accelerator Cockcroft and Walton used to first split the atom. The project team for the CERN exhibit includes Harry Cliff, the first Science Museum Fellow of Modern Science, who divides his time between the museum and the University of Cambridge team working on the LHCb experiment at CERN.

In his speech to the audience, Ian Blatchford highlighted how, as annual visitor numbers have risen to almost 3 million, the museum is extending its collaborations, not just with CERN and Cambridge but with Imperial College London and the space community too; the museum recently hosted the 50th anniversary of Ariel 1 the first international space mission, and is planning a major exhibition on Soviet-era cosmonauts.

He added that there is also a new emphasis in the museum on collaborations with the arts, from its latest exhibition on the symbolism of alchemy to a forthcoming collaboration with the Philharmonia and next year’s Media Space gallery, a partnership with the National Media Museum in Bradford which will focus on visual media.

The museum is evolving. It recently received an award of £6 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a 2014 gallery which will tell the story of two centuries of innovation in communication technology. With the forthcoming Media Space Project, the new gallery represents a key step in the delivery of the museum’s Master Plan.