LEARNING PROVISION FOR WIRELESS IN WALES
March 2011 - 2013
An HLF funded project
Funding for the Learning Provision for the Wireless in Wales project was approved by HLF during winter 2010/11. Over the last two years much activity has taken place to enrich the organisation and highlight its lifelong learning potential within the community and beyond.
The project focuses on the heritage of radio and radio broadcasting in Wales and it strives to give access to a wider audience delivering Key Stage 2 workshops in History and Technology as well as life-long learning events to the local community involving youth groups, older people’s groups and families.
Once the grant had been awarded the first task for the management committee was to recruit a learning development officer. A decision was made to recruit a job share post split between Jacqui Bentley and Mair Jones.
Sharon Newell has supported the two post holders throughout the majority of their tasks, particularly in relation to the success of public outreach events and new volunteer engagement.
Through the learning project between 12 and 15 new volunteers have been engaged with the museum, and are actively employed in delivering and assisting with some of the learning activities. Particular mention must be made of David Crawford who, as a volunteer, has wholly embraced the importance of public access to the collections and their stories for all audiences in many ways, including working all year with a science club at a local school (St Bridget’s) and engaging international special interest discussion of the museum’s radio valves via Flickr.
Over the two years a considerable amount of training was undertaken by staff and volunteerst. Scientists and wireless professionals were engaged to give staff talks and explain the technical detail and importance of the wireless so that this information could be ‘translated’ to interpret to a range of audiences. All volunteers and staff members took part in visits to important transmission sites in Wales, such as Waunfawr – the latter being led by David Crawford as a member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology.
The members of the project team also wanted to thank their museum mentor for her support and encouragement during the lifetime of the project.
Within the overarching aim – collaborate with local schools and community groups in the development of museum based learning projects and activities related to the history of radio in Wales and build toward museum Accreditation – there were three more specific aims – to interpret and make accessible the collection through displays, education opportunities and by other means; to ensure the long term sustainability of the museum; and enhance the learning content in the gallery displays. Some areas are worth specific mention.
The development of ten flexible lesson plan packs, which range from communications to 1940s technology to local case studies. All these packs are bilingual and digitised on PowerPoint so that they can be adapted easily according to the emphasis required by the school. Jacqui has trained a number of volunteers to manipulate the information and to deliver the sessions.
Jacqui supported the new volunteer, David Crawford, in working with the ‘A’ level science club at St Bridget’s and also with a work experience student. David developed both these initiatives bringing the world of radio and engineering to a new young audience.
A previous project for the museum was gaining oral histories about the history of radio and its importance within the town. Jacqui, together with Sharon, was able to utilise some of the material collected in the school’s packs.
One of Mair’s first tasks when taking up post was to work with the Denbigh Civic Society on Denbigh Past, Present and Future exhibition.. This was built upon with the museum participating in the town’s Open Doors Heritage initiative in both 2011 and 2012 when the museum worked with costumed re-enactors to bring the oral histories and times of the radios to life. Both these events were flagged with the town guides and, as a result of this and Mair’s encouragement, the museum now features on their trails.
Mair has dressed in costume herself on a couple of occasions to set the scene and facilitate outreach and in-house sessions. Together with David Crawford she led a reminiscence session at a Denbigh Care Home, another at a day care centre and a cubs’ visit to the museum.
Another extremely important initiative was the presence of the Wireless in Wales at the National Eisteddfod in 2011 in Wrexham. The museum was able to man a stand for the whole period of the Eisteddfod and make its mark within the Welsh speaking community. There were displays and experiments, and many positive comments and feedback was received. This was an opportunity for new volunteers to be involved.
A series of public lectures for specialist audiences based on the technology, science and major figures of wireless development have been arranged. Most of the lectures have been delivered at the museum – one during National Science and Engineering Week – although one particularly well received one was an outreach lecture in Bala, which received double page coverage for the museum in the Daily Post.
Our volunteers are present at the museum throughout the week and welcome visitors by appointment and in drop in situations.
Once refurbishment is complete, the museum will be open on a regular basis with opening hours clearly advertised.