At SMG, we define a resource as anything that enhances and supports our museum offer for any audience, as well as facilitating independent learning at home, on the move, or in the classroom.
Our learning resources are shaped by the Science Museum Group’s learning approach and philosophy- to ignite curiosity and questioning around science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) by assisting discovery through active participation and social interaction- and aim to inspire people to explore and talk about science both in and beyond our museums.
This list of resources has been chosen by the Science Museum Group Academy and Resources team, who work closely with teachers, community groups and others involved in STEM engagement and communication. They use, and promote, the resources throughout all their training and have also been involved in the development of many of the activities themselves.
So, which of our (over) 140 resources do we recommend that you should try in 2023?
I am being cheeky and choosing a resource that I worked on. My top resource you should try in 2023 is the Maths and Railways image bank. I worked with curators and the learning team at the National Railway Museum to pull out stories of how maths is used on the railways, and I was blown away at the many different narratives that could be told.
Measurement and geometry are used throughout the rail industry to do things such as designing locomotives, planning routes, creating timetables and setting fares. It is because of the railways that we have standard time, since creating a timetable when different places had slightly different times becomes way too confusing.
It is because of the railway that fish and chips is a national dish, since fish couldn’t be moved fast enough from the coast to inland shops before the invention of the railways.
Highlighting maths in the railway industry is a way of highlighting many useful practical applications of maths.
Jess, Academy Programme Leader
I have to say that Ear Gongs always amazes me. Until trying it myself, I never would have thought that using materials this simple could create such incredible sounds!
By wrapping the string around your finger that is tied to a metal coat hanger and placing your fingers in your ears, you can expect to hear the unexpected. These unusual sounds can change depending on what type of string you use, how long the string is and what type of surface the coat hanger touches, which means there’s lots of opportunity for experimentation.
I think this is a brilliant resource because it requires everyday, easily found materials and it doesn’t take long to make. It’s also great for a wide range of ages, and lets children take the lead and use their scientific skills to experiment.
It is also a great multi-sensory activity too, that lets children explore the topic of sound by experimenting with pitch and frequency and understanding how it can travel through different states of matter. Great for both at school and at home!
Mady, Academy Programme Leader
This resource should come with a warning as it will get stuck in your head for days and days after listening to it.
This is a very different type pf resource compared with many of the others as it’s a song. It was made many years ago now, but its charm and sense of fun is still a great hook for sparking a discussion around nontechnology.
Beth, Academy and Resources Manager
This is the resource I think your should try in 2023 as it’s something I’d never come across before. We included the bouncy egg in our kitchen science activities, and it blew my mind. I never would have guessed that an egg could bounce.
Kate, Academy Programme Leader
I’m not to ashamed to admit it, I’m borderline obsessed with this resource, and if you try it- you will be as well.
Being able to blow up a balloon in a completely unexpected way will never fail to knock my socks off. I have done the “blow up balloon” resource with lots of diverse groups and every time it is greeted with amazed filled faces, but none as amazed filled as my own.
Andy, Academy Programme Leader
Graphite circuits was the obvious choice for me. This resource lets your creativity shine- literally!
Get your graphite pencil, draw a shape (absolutely anything you like), connect the electronics and watch the bulb light up. With this resource the possibilities are endless, from exploring scientific concepts like conductivity and resistance, to getting super creative and making light up holiday cards.
Watch out though- the graphite can really get your hands dirty!
Max, Academy Programme Leader
With so many wonderful resources to choose from, I’ve gone for the HIEER (Hook, inform, enable, extend and reflect) audience engagement tool.
If you have ever wondered what the essential ingredients are to creating inspiring and engaging experiences for your group, this tool certainly provides a practical and valuable guide. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or complete novice, the five key elements of this tool will support you in delivering an experience with your group at its heart.
HIEER allows for flexibility, as your can use it in whatever order you wish, and it can be used for diverse audiences in mind such as families, children, young people, or older adults.
The experience could be, for example, developing a learning resource or an activity delivered in a formal educational setting or a community one. Using the HIEER tool is a great foundation to build inspiring experiences on, and who knows what exciting ideas and opportunities you will produce when you let your imagination run.
Rebecca, Learning Resources Producer
I chose the talking points cards as the top resource you should try in 2023.
These fantastically varied questions give a personal view on a selection of objects at the Science Museum.
By asking the reader to think about themselves, their lives, and their own feelings it is a great way to build more connection with, sometimes, seemingly abstract objects.
The resource is aimed at Key Stage 4 (14-16) so they draw in a group that can find it hard to engage with non-interactive objects.
Jon, Resources Developer
The resource I think you should try in 2023 is the see, link, wonder technique. It costs nothing, uses no materials (so is sustainable) and it can be taken into any space to spark moments of connection and meaning.
It helps adults feel more prepared to lead a group, and in my opinion, more curious themselves about what they see in front of them (that they might even taken for granted!).
Micol, Academy Programme Leader
Launchball is addictive and lets you spring your way through 30 obstacle-filled levels, and even create your own levels to play with your friends. Launchball was the most downloaded and visited resource in 2022, and if you play it- it won’t take you long to realise why.
Most visited resource, 2022
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