Hi, I’m Aisling, a trainee education officer taking part in the HLF Skills for the Future programme across the Oxford University Museums and Collections.
I’ll be spending a year working with the education teams, learning the skills it takes to become a great museum education officer.
My placement starts with 4 months here at the Museum of Natural History, before moving to the Ashmolean, and finishing in the Pitt Rivers Museum.
Last Sunday I was lucky enough to work at Cowley Road Carnival with the rest of the trainee team. When we met in the morning the sun was shining, music was playing, the whole street already smelt delicious from the many street food stalls… we just knew it was going to be a good day!
Before all the fun could start we had to set up base at our spot in the grounds of St Mary and St John Church. How many trainees does it take to set up two tents and a few tables?
The answer is five trainees, a project coordinator, a head of education and three additional helpers. It took teamwork, perseverance and the truly superhuman strength of Andy, head of education at the Pitt Rivers, but we got there in the end, and didn’t it just look beautiful!?
After we had rewarded our hard work with a much-needed tea break we began setting up our handling objects. We took lots of beautiful masks, quite fitting for the theme ‘the many faces of Oxford.’ We also took a horse skull, a cast of a velociraptor skull, and some fossilised dinosaur poo. The last of which created some very funny reactions when the person holding it found out what it was.
The make and take activity we chose to run was mask-making, which is always a hit with the children (and some grown-ups too!) There was shiny paper, glitter and sequins everywhere, and we mean everywhere, and a fun time was had by all.
Our activity proved very popular and we counted 220 children who left for home as Egyptian pharaohs, samurai warriors or fierce dinosaurs. What’s more, the sun stayed shining for the whole day, despite the forecasts predicting otherwise, and we even got time to catch some of the procession. Definitely a good day!
Aisling Serrant, Trainee Education Officer