Category Archives: events

A fantastic challenge

Hi all, I’m sure you’re more than ready for the holidays, but before we go, I wanted to share an opportunity for you Biology teachers and your students… Amanda Hardy, Schools and Colleges Officer at the Society of Biology and a former science teacher, wrote to me: 

As a teacher I was very aware that pupils were in danger of seeing science as something to be learnt, rather than a subject to experience, question and look for answers to those questions. The idea of scientific discovery sometimes seems remote from the classroom experience and pupils may not realise that one day they could be running experiments which nobody has tried before. Practical lessons allow some exploration and the chance to test ideas, but it is impossible to dedicate enough time to them and they still normally involve following an instruction sheet.

Despite the inevitable constraints, many teachers are able to inspire students beyond learning facts, and in my role at the Society of Biology I hope to give teachers this opportunity via a number of our activities and resources for students individually and in the classroom.

The British Biology Olympiad is designed to allow sixth formers to expand their knowledge and talents, and to be rewarded and publicly recognised by the award of medals, certificates and prizes. The first round is multiple choice and winners from this are invited to an Award Ceremony at the Royal Society in London. Medals are awarded based on Round One, and students winning a gold medal are invited to take part in Round Two, from which finalists are selected to compete at the British Biology Olympiad final. The British final  at the University of Reading includes  practical assessments and an additional written paper.  Four of the UK finalists will go forward to the International Biology Olympiad final in Switzerland. The competition is growing each year, and attracts thousands of entries. I attended the 2012 UK finals at the University of Birmingham, at which it was inspiring to see the way the young people applied themselves to the challenges. Their attitudes were exactly what the competition was designed to foster.

For younger pupils (Year 9/Year 10 in England and Wales, Year 10/Year 11 in Northern Ireland and S2/S3 in Scotland), Biology Challenge is taken online in schools. It is designed to be challenging and interesting, stimulating curiosity beyond the biology curriculum. Although most people will never work as a scientist, my aim is to increase the number of young people who leave school feeling some ‘ownership’ of science, knowing that they are qualified to think critically about the scientific evidence they encounter during their everyday lives. I hope the competitions will reveal just how interesting, varied and exciting biology can be.

I would be really interested to hear from teachers who feel they have achieved these aims in different ways, and from any teachers who are keen to get involved in our competitions.  You can find out more at our updated competition’s website:

So there you have it. A chance to develop your students’ skills, passion for science, and a potential trip to Switzerland! Something to consider over the holidays perhaps…

I will leave you with this picture: super cute cell ornaments! Maybe a creative way to help your students engage with cell biology? You could try making some in class – use felt sheets and hot glue guns if you dont fancy sewing.

Celling fast: tree ornaments!

Celling fast: tree ornaments!

Have a brilliant time everyone, and maybe see some of you at the ASE conference in January -come say hello to us on the Science Museum stand.

Take care



Wow, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind the last few weeks, culminating with the first Talk Science Seminar yesterday. We had a brilliant time, hopefully everyone in attendance did too!

We welcomed about 60 museum professsionals from far and wide,  and it was a real pleasure to see, hear & participate in the discussions around ideas from ‘ghost’ objects and QR codes, to handling collections and extension objects.


Call a taxi! Objects great and small can inspire us...

We tried to give participants a forum to explore why and how we should use our collections to support the teaching of science- and with so much food for thought coming from the day, it looks like we will have plenty more to tackle in future seminars. 

The lovely Rebecca Mileham was our keen reporter during the day, gathering ideas and unpicking trends in the conversations- her findings will be published in the next couple weeks, along with some great cartoons (thanks to the fabulous artists!) that captured the breaking thoughts of the day. We loved seeing those on the wall in the afternoon, eliciting the emotions all over again.

Rebecca Mileham pulled together the findings of the day

Rebecca Mileham pulled together the findings of the seminar

If you were there, thank you for participating. And drop us a line at if you are interested in attending or speaking at future events!

For now, I will leave you with some thoughts that came out of yesterday… Do you agree with them, disagree wholeheartedly, do they intrigue you?

“barriers faced by teachers in museums: too many objects,  poor interpretation, and students’ expectations”

“learning is tied to curriculum stipulations. But what about curiosity?”

“museum objects are inherently interesting. Do we  really need complex technology to interpret them?”

“museum learning is about enquiry skills more than about the content”

 Open for discussion :)




DNA Database – what’s the debate?

Have you ever wondered how DNA evidence is used to solve crimes? What is the National DNA Database? And why should it matter to us anyway?

Explore these questions and more in our new show ‘The Great DNA Debate’, all about genetic information, how it can be used, and who should have access to it. 


Socks and chromosomes in the Great DNA Debate show

Socks and chromosomes go together in the Great DNA Debate show

This interactive show is designed to support your teaching of KS3 and KS4  Biology and How Science Works, including applications and implications of science. Your students are also encouraged to participate in the discussion and have their say, so it’s a great PTLS activity too (check out the video here for a taste of the show!)

Planning to take your students to the Who am I? exhibition to explore genetics, brain science, and how they make each of us unique? This show will really enhance your visit.

The Great DNA Debate is free but requires prebooking, upcoming performances are on Tuesday 8th November, at 11am and 1pm. The show is 45 minutes long.

Call our Learning Support Team on 0207 942 4777 to find out more and book your class in!

Coming LIVE! from Antenna

Have you ever visited the Antenna gallery at the Science Museum? It’s an ever-changing exhibition of science news and cutting edge research, where you can find out what’s bubbling and what’s buzzing, see some incredible objects (a dress made of thousands of paper cranes folded from the London Metro newspaper- how’s that for throwaway fashion?) and share your views on our interactive kiosks.

Antenna also has a website which is great for an instant peek into whats happening right NOW in the science and tech world- a lot of teachers even get their students to use it for info gathering before a discussion.

But anyway! The exciting news is that Antenna has 3 live events happening on gallery this month!

2-4 August: Space Robots

Time: 10.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.00

Come and see the robots that could be bound for the surface of distant planets. Are they the future of space exploration? Scientists from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory who developed the robots will be there to answer all your questions.

 16-18 August: Cockroach Robot

Time: 10.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.00

How do insects move so quickly? Come and check out a super-speedy six-legged robot from the Royal Veterinary College. Find out how its cockroach-inspired legs help it move from the engineers who designed it.

Cockroaches get fitted with tiny accelerometer 'backpacks' Cyber-roach – fitted with an accelerometer backpack

23-25 August: Demon unmanned aerial vehicle

Time: 10.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.00

It’s the world’s first flapless aircraft – the Demon UAV, which uses compressed air to manoeuvre. Could this be the stealth plane of the future? Join engineers from Cranfield University and BAE Systems to find out how the Demon works.

Demon unmanned aerial vehicle

Demon UAV - first flapless flight

 So come check out this month’s ‘bots, and chat with the scientists who devised them!

The Big Bang Fair @ScienceMuseum

Happening tomorrow… The Science Museum is proudly hosting the Big Bang London and South East

It will be a day of hands-on science and engineering activities, fun workshops, and awesome, inspiring projects presented by young people from across the region (I am always blown away by the incredible work of the UK’s bright young minds!)

Come soak up the science, pick up some great ideas for your classroom or science clubs, and get your students excited about careers in STEM… oh, and take a few minutes to explore the Museum while you’re here.

See you all tomorrow!

The Big Bang Fair is in London!

The Big Bang Fair is in London!

Climate spice can be nice

Climate science is a hot topic, and right now we have quite a few great (if we may say so ourselves) exhibitions and resources here at the Science Museum, things that will inspire discussion and make teaching climate science that much more engaging.

Right now a special exhibition called Ten Climate Stories is open on the ground floor, revealing the hidden stories behind some of our favourite objects and also showcasing some incredible artwork. The Antarctic Sno-Cat is so amazing, it gives us chills (excuse the pun)! And do you have any idea what goes into making everyday objects like a toaster? We think you will be surprised!

Antarctic Sno-Cat: the stuff adventure is made of

Investigate our climate-changing world in Atmosphere, make sense of how climate works and travel back in time to uncover the secrets of our ice core. This is a really immersive exhibition, designed as a space with its own landscape, oceans and atmosphere so we think your students will find it a lot of fun to explore!

Oh, if you get the chance and bugs don’t bug you out, TAKE OUR COCKROACH TOUR! Put yourself in their shells and take a look at those bizarre creatures known as humans… Weekends only (so maybe this is best for you and a friend), space is limited to ring 0870 870 4868 to book your place.

Of course, pay a visit to the Energy gallery to get your students thinking about the ways we fuel our lifestyle and where our electricity comes from. You will have to book a timeslot for this (it is free), and your students will benefit from an excellent briefing to get them thinking about the energy debate before they go into the gallery. Do call our Learning Support Team to book.

Once you’re back at school (or at home) you can play our online game Rizk which is all about the difference between thriving and surviving- representing the choices we make to develop our world and the risks we take. I’m a big fan of it’s slick, moody graphics- beautiful!

Rizk - whats the difference between surviving and thriving?

We also have a whole range of learning resources that will help you engage your students in the topic (which can be a bit tricky to make appealing, we know!). So on our website you will find everything you need to plan a collapsed timetable day- but you can pick and choose activities to just use in your classroom too.

Our resources are all developed and tested with teachers and students (we even ran the Carbon Cycle Caper at ASE conference in January and it got rave reviews) so hopefully from all this you’ll find something that suits your needs and helps you add a bit of climate spice to your lessons!

The Big Bang Fair- were you there?

We were. And we had a fantastic time meeting students, educators and even Prof Brian Cox whilst working on the Science Museum stand at the fair! Oh, and gawking at the amazing flying penguins.

AirPenguins by engineering company Festo captivated us at the Big Bang Fair

The Big Bang Fair is a wonderful science festival for young people, promoting careers in science and showcasing young people’s STEM projects from across the UK- from marine biology to product design. These inspiring young participants were finalists in the National Science and Engineering Competition, and their STEM projects had made it all the way through from the heats at regional Big Bang Fairs, to the national Finals which took place last weekend in London. A huge well done to everyone who was there, engaging people with their research and sharing their hard work and successes with other students!

So if your students are carrying out a project, be it at home, in school or as part of a club, think about getting involved. Your students may find themselves presenting their research at a regional fair, one of which we are excited to be hosting here at the Science Museum on 22nd June 2011.

See you there!

Is happiness contagious?

Want some inspiration for a classroom discussion around the science of happiness? With its potential to explore neuroscience, chemical messengers, bio-synthesis, diet and lifestyle, this could be a great cross-curricular topic to engage your students.

Brain synapses- are they happy?

Here’s a few ways you could get some ideas. First off, check out this fab Punk Science film, where Dan and Jon go head to head with serotonin.

Next, head over to the Science Museum for our Lates this Wednesday 23rd February, and spend a fun evening exploring things that will make you glad, including a live Punk Science show, speed dating, and our fantastic cockroach tour- guaranteed to improve your sense of well-being.

Finally, get some more background on the chemistry of a happy brain, and ask your students if happiness can be viral :)

Enjoy, and happy (pun intended) talking!

ASE, the place to be!

Hello all and happy New Year!

Come and see the Science Museum at ASE Annual Conference 2011

We are kicking off 2011 with a bang at the ASE Annual Conference in Reading, where we will be running a workshop with Mystery Boxes, and another great activity from our course. In fact, we even had a bunch of scientists try out Mystery Boxes, and this film shows what they thought of it.

In other exciting news, in our session you will also catch the EXCLUSIVE ASE PREMIER of Punk Science’s Nanotechnology Song! You will not want to miss this… but if you do, well, you’ll also find it right here for your (and your students!) viewing pleasure.

Punk Science also explore the brain chemicals that make us happy in this film (good for post-holiday resolutions. Yeah right). Finally, if you want some ideas for spicing up your science, check out Punk Science’s top tips.

So where can you find us at ASE? Our session will run 11:30-12:30 on Saturday 8th Jan, in the Palmer suite 108. Places are limited so make sure you get there on time.

If you just can’t make it to that, you will also find the Science Museum on Stand C1 in the Exhibition Marquee, for the duration of the conference (5th-8th Jan). So come and say hello, and find out more about our great resources, courses and visits.

See you there!

Holidays in Space?

A trip on a Virgin Galactic sub orbital space flight next year will set you back at least $200,000 …..we can all dream! But will these trips ever be affordable and should public money be used to fund them?

Zero gravity

Zero gravity

A report published this week recommends that Britain invests more money in the space industry in order to take advantage of key market opportunities including space tourism.

Take advantage of the current media coverage to run a discussion lesson on space tourism.

Some ideas to get your students thinking…

  • How far could a space tourism trip take you?
  • How long will it be before we can book a hotel on the moon or holiday on Mars?
  • How much risk are the public willing to take? What if there was an accident?
  • Do you need to be as fit as an astronaut to go?
  • What is the carbon footprint of a trip into space?

The increasing public interest in space travel may well be of a benefit to scientists doing research by making extra funding available. However, it could also be a hindrance if there was an increase in health and safety scares linked to space exploration or  if funding gets diverted away from research and invested in space tourism instead.

To get your class discussing this topic you could get groups to each research a different area and follow this with mixed group discussions using the marketplace format. Run a search on space tourism on the web to find multiple news articles and websites with both sides to the story.

As part of the Exploring the Universe Theme Day at the Science Museum on 17th May the Talk Science team will be running a discussion activity on Space tourism for secondary school groups. To book or for more information give our friendly bookings team a call on 020 7942 4777.