Staying ahead of the Curve at Slough’s Arts Award Leadership Network event
Date Created: 18th Apr 2018
On the 15th of March, many different organisations gathered together in the relatively new complex at the Curve, Slough for another Arts Award Leadership Network event. The day featured a Lego vehicle-designing session (followed by a race amongst the finished creations), designing of wearable technology, and experimenting with different VR platforms. Our Artsmark & Arts Award Apprentice, Meg, tells us more about the day’s events.
Anna Jones, Director of The Curve, gave a welcoming introduction to the day, featuring a Stephen Hawking quote, acknowledging the late physicist’s death and simultaneously setting the tone for a day of creative science activity.
Jones handed over to David Pallash, Lego’s Senior Manager of Social Responsibility and Child Engagement. He discussed how fortunate he feels to be able to travel the world advocating for the importance of play. He got attendees involved through a stomp and clap exercise to demonstrate “a musical version of coding”, and described his practice of providing a large group of children with the same set of lego pieces and asking them to “create a duck”. Pallash explained that no two ducks were the same, citing it as an example of how play and creativity are essential to growing young minds. The exercise shows how one brief can return a variety of results because of humanity’s ability to use initiative, whilst still fulfilling the same request.
Next, Miranda Millward of Oxford University Museums explained her work, which has seen her run Arts Award programmes for children to connect with and achieve through museums and heritage settings. She gave a recent example of how they had facilitated a young person who wanted to achieve their Silver Arts Award through the Museum of the History of Science. As part of their Award, the young person created a short film that explained the use of an orrery (a mechanical model of the solar system), on permanent display in the museum.
Following this, Noelle Ally from Science Oxford discussed her project in partnership with OYAP Trust, in which 11-15 year-olds designed wearable technology. This was designed with the purpose of how it might benefit someone with a disability. Inventions included a hat that could indicate to blind people if something was in front of them, due to the design being light sensitive/reactive. Another garment had been created to help a range of disabilities that impair communication, using a button that bleeped on demand to help prevent such issues for the wearer. In addition to gaining an Arts Award, the young participants also received a Crest Award, helping to recognise and celebrate the fusion of science and art.
Following the talks, attendees were invited to take part in different workshops. One was led by Noelle Ally and continued the theme of wearable technology. A second, led by David Pallash, had participants designing and racing electronic Lego vehicles. The third workshop, led by Josh Godfrey of Slough Museum and Artist Jay Younes, gave people the chance to try on newly-designed VR headsets and be immersed in a new world, that of an apartment in the Swiss Alps.
As the different workshops drew to a close, attendees gathered in the main hall for a closing keynote speech from Emma Weitkamp, Associate Professor in Science Communication at UWE. Weitkamp is currently involved in a project with EPSRC, creating a series of Science Comics. She spoke of her intentions of combining science with the art of comics to make it more appealing to young children. Working with Illustrator Frank Burnet, Emma wrote the comics to tell the story of a young character, Selenia, to promote the importance of scientific inquiry in primary schools.
The event closed with a brilliant piece from Poet Mohammed Basith Awan, on things we should all consider when looking up at the stars – a very fitting tribute to the art that science displays for us in the natural world.
Find out more about Arts Award and how you can use it to brighten the futures of children and young people here