It’s been too long since I last blogged! But loads has been happening, and things are really starting to move forward with the John Gray Centre. So much is going on throughout the museums in East Lothian too – it really feels like spring, with everything waking up after our winter of school projects and planning, repairing and preparing.
Even though the Centre hasn’t opened yet (it’s still shrouded and scaffolded, with builders clambering all over it) we had our first John Gray Centre event at the weekend, part of National Science and Engineering Week. It was held right opposite where the new Centre will be, at Haddington’s Town House. Caroline, our brilliant and enthusiastic JGC Development Officer (in charge of outreach, activities and education for the Centre), organised the day, and really made a splash with it. There were loads of activities for kids, all based around the theme of ‘communication’, with lots of opportunity for making and drawing, getting faces painted and building
with K’nex kits.
Science curators from the National Museums of Scotland joined us, bringing morse code sets and parts of the first telegraph cables ever to connect Europe with America – amazing to realise that only about 100 years ago, all fast communication between the countries would have been done through these cables by morse code, with none of this fancy telephone and internet stuff! The curators also brought along a replica of the first ever magic lantern, which I found fascinating. The original was made in the 1600s, and must have seemed like TV or film to people in those days, the first time stories could be told with light and pictures – Klaus, the expert from NMS, told me that they were used in church sermons, at Sunday schools, for evening entertainment – all sorts. We were able to make and project our own slides, and after hearing some of the history, it really did feel like magic. I learnt a lot, even though I was supposed to be a ‘helper’ myself!
I also got stuck in asking parents what they’d like from the new website we’re starting to plan for the Centre – there’s an online survey you can fill in if you’d like to have your say too. I’d love to hear what you want, what you like in other websites – and what you don’t like. It was really interesting to hear what people had to say – most parents seem to use the web for information (travel times, accommodation, what’s on that they can do with their families and so on), and a mix of people use it for school projects and games and fun (people told me they like Spotify and Astrology sites, and Amazon and eBay were very popular too). On our site we’ll try and have a really good mix of information about what’s on, as well as loads of useful information for people to use for family history research and finding out more about East Lothian’s heritage, as well as games and interactive features that everyone can enjoy. Please do get in touch with any ideas and suggestions!
There’s so much more I want to say! Our event wasn’t the only one on this weekend – Sarah organised some brilliant activities for International Women’s Day, with drama and stories and competitions, and Jo from John Muir’s Birthplace ran a really popular event at SciFest near Dunbar, inspired by ‘John Muir the Inventor’.
But I’ll leave that for another day. And I’ll be putting up some photos from the weekend’s activities very soon.