Marking International Museum Day 2023 with schoolchildren and cameras

Posted on by Saffron Smolka.

Today (May 18) is International Museum Day with the theme of Museums, Sustainability, and well-being. A recent collaboration between our Museums Learning team and UWE Bristol demonstrates the valuable role museums play in lifelong learning and connecting communities to nature.

After the success of last year’s intergenerational photography project, children from two more Bristol schools were able to learn about wildlife photography from experts during March and April.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at M Shed is produced by the Natural History Museum and sponsored by University of West England (UWE Bristol).  A group of fifteen second and third-year UWE photography students worked with the Bristol Museums’ Learning team.  Together they designed and delivered this innovative workshop for Bristol primary school children, which took place at  M Shed and the surrounding Harbourside.

Group of university students outside the M Shed museum with a member of the Museums Learning team. Image of polar bear in background

The students created age-appropriate lesson plans as part of their course. Children took advantage of student expertise and knowledge and were able to use professional cameras from the University. Developing and delivering activities with young children in mind, thinking about timings, attention spans and learning outcomes is quite an assignment!

Over 100 school children aged from six to 10 years had an exclusive tour of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. These schools may have fewer opportunities to come to the city centre on school trips for a number of reasons. After the tour the children took part in a workshop on how to photograph wildlife. They learnt how to use the equipment, before they excitedly set off, to photograph wildlife along the harbourside.

Additionally, a smaller group of pupils who represented their school Eco Team attended a workshop. This formed part of their commitment to making a positive impact on their environment and learning more about nature.

woodlice photographed close up on a red brick. Mud and undergrowth surround

Bristol has a long history of wildlife photography and filming, and this project helps to introduce children to photography as a career choice or hobby, as well as encouraging an appreciation of wildlife.

Comments from pupils included “Best day ever”, “It’s so nice not to be on my phone”, “That was such a fun adventure”, “I’m going to ask for a camera for my birthday” and “Today I learned that anyone can be a photographer”.

group of primary aged children using professional cameras. 2 adults assisting, on a path beside a railway carriage on Bristol harbourside

Claire Stevens, one of the teachers leading the group from Oasis Academy Bank Leaze said: “This was the first chance we’ve had to take a class out of school since COVID lockdowns. So naturally we and the children were very excited! The UWE students were great at engaging with the children, which is not an easy feat! It was clear the students put a lot of thought and planning into the sessions. Their passion for photography shone through in their interactions with our pupils.”

“As well as being inspired by the fantastic, and sometimes thought-provoking, photography in the exhibition itself, the children came away from the experience with new thinking about creative career options and what it means to be a university student. Using professional cameras was a treat too!”

Amy Greenman-Sparrow, year 5 teacher from Oasis Academy Long Cross said: “To have this opportunity to come to the Harbourside and the museum, thanks to funding from UWE and the collaboration between students and the Museums Learning team, has been brilliant. The children were really receptive to the experience and got a lot out of the day. They chatted excitedly on the coach home about the experience. We are going to create a display of the pupils’ photos back at school”.Primary school children taking photos on Bristol harbourside with professional cameras. Railway sidings in background

More Information

Read about the workshop in UWE Bristol’s blog Photography students and Bristol primary schools team up to explore the wonders of photography and the natural world.

Visit the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at M Shed until 29 May.

Find out what else Bristol Museums Learning offer

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