Museum: Captain Cook Birthplace Museum
Topic: Cornerstones curriculum topic, Blue Abyss
Number of students involved: 60
Arts Award level: Discover
Year group: Year 4
Overview: The group looked at models of creatures to learn about their features and adaptations, and then drew them in detail. We introduced magnifying glasses and microscopes to encourage children to look at features and patterns in some of the smaller sea creatures from the museum’s handling collections. To build on this, the children worked with a local artist to create willow fish sculptures. This re-visited the features of a fish, its shape and adaptations. To make sure we covered everything, we followed this up with a session in school. All the children were able to achieve their Arts Award Discover through the project.
How did the students benefit from doing Arts Award? The children related well to working with a local artist with an enthusiasm for Captain Cook, helping them learn more about someone they’d already looked at in school. Adapting the Cornerstones programme of study to include Captain Cook as a local hero increased its relevance. Children were able to relate to, and see the significance of creatures they’d never seen in their own lives. When children realised that a local hero from their home area had seen and recorded these amazing creatures, it gave them a real sense of awe and pride in where they come from.
Children’s understanding about the relevance of art in the wider world also developed from this session. One boy who had a particular flair for observational drawing was noticeably enthused by gaining an Arts Award. He was keen to become an architect and through this experience he could really see how art could be used as he grew older. Finally, taking a ready-made display back to school meant teacher and pupils alike could continue their discussions and share them with parents and peers at a school assembly.
Using artists to enhance museum-based workshops is incredibly beneficial to visiting groups, regardless of the topic. Artists and art can easily be incorporated into science or humanities workshops. Art also provides a hands-on approach to learning, and through the Arts Award, museums can really offer an opportunity to consolidate learning for children of all abilities and give them an extra sense of achievement. Combining Arts Award Discover with a museum visit helps continue the momentum of learning back in school on a far greater scale than a more traditional school workshop.