Swindon’s STEAM Museum launches new blended learning resources for schools

By Jamie Hill - 17 November 2020


In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway, is adapting its learning sessions and harnessing new technologies to ensure that school children are given the opportunity to engage with culture and heritage.

School children will be able to participate in live virtual learning sessions, delivered by one of STEAM’s Formal Learning Officers, all of whom are qualified teachers with DBS clearance.

New COVID-secure discovery boxes have also been created to enable teachers to offer object handling in the classroom. The boxes contain between 10 and 15 original artefacts from STEAM’s handling collection and there are eight different themed boxes to choose from covering National Curriculum topics, including the Victorians and the Second World War.

STEAM’s discovery boxes are available to borrow for a two-week period and schools will also be offered a live virtual question and answer session where pupils will be able to learn more about the stories behind the objects.

STEAM is also offering new outreach, sessions that are delivered by STEAM’s Formal Learning Team within schools. Sessions are suitable for both Key Stage One and Two, and they enable children to contextualise their learning through storytelling using characters, costume, drama and role-play. All virtual learning and outreach sessions are available to schools for a small fee.

Frances Yeo, STEAM Museum Manager, said: “We are very pleased to be offering new, innovative resources for schools. At STEAM, we pride ourselves on the delivery of exceptional learning experiences, which encourage children to use their imaginations. The new resource boxes and discovery sessions bring history to life and promote engagement by stimulating discussion between pupils.

“We have already received very positive feedback on our new resources and some discovery boxes are already fully booked until the end of November. We are very much looking forward to working with schools using these new resources and sessions.”

Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Town Centre, Culture and Heritage, said: “Discovery boxes are the latest example of STEAM museum staff using innovative ways to support teachers and families during these difficult times. COVID-19 is changing the way people work and learn, and the museum has carefully adapted to use new approaches to bring the museum into the classroom.

“Whether it is technology and our virtual tours, or COVID-secure discovery boxes, we have a way to ensure our town’s railway history is accessible to schools and homes across Swindon and the country.”

For schools wanting to arrange an in-person visit to the Museum, The STEAM Learning Team is continuing to accept provisional bookings for when the museum is able to reopen.

STEAM holds the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom quality badge.

To discuss how STEAM can enhance learning the classroom, and to book a schools session or discovery box please email: steameducation@swindon.gov.uk

More details can be found on the STEAM Museum website: www.steam-museum.org.uk

Follow the Museum on Facebook and Instagram (@SteamMuseum), or Twitter (@Steam_Museum).

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