Domestic Science

Project aims:

This project aimed to use the archives to illustrate how the application of physics influences how we live day to day, with particular focus on the development and use of domestic appliances.


� To use stories from the Mass Observation Archives to illustrate our use of domestic appliances throughout the past decades

� Physics students to talk directly to family visitors about the physics involved in the development and workings of different appliances

� Family visitors read the history of the use of domestic appliances and try out some hands-on demonstrations to illustrate the physics involved

� Family visitors make the connection between the development and application of physics and how we live by submitting their own thoughts on what they think will be in their homes in the future

Summary of activity:

Three broad areas were explored:
Washing – washing machine and detergents
Cooking – ovens, including microwave ovens and refrigeration
Entertainment – record players and sound
At each area visitors were able to read a selection of stories from the archive about our use of appliances in the home. There was also a screen showing images of the appliances from the Science Museum library.
The activities were manned by students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Sussex University to help explain the physics involved.
Once they had tried all the activities visitors were asked what they see in their homes in the future. These were put in an archive box and will be added to the MOA archive. They were also given a Marvin and Milo postcard and directed towards the website where they can try out other activities at home.

Evaluation approach:

Audience were invited to write on post its and respond to questions to outline their engagement and enjoyment of the event. People tagged a map with reference to way they had come from. people were asked to design homes of the future and post these in an archive box.

What went well:

1.Mass Observation Archive was thrilled to be engaging with entirely new audiences. Everyone who attended the event was a first time visitor to the Mass Observation Archive and The Keep and we were very much encouraged by how engaged and interested the audience was.

2.Feedback from the students was generally positive, they appeared to enjoy the day and talking to family visitors, especially the younger children.

3.We received over 100 visitors over the course of the day

What was learned:

1.The cooking demonstrations were more challenging with the microwave experiment proving most difficult to deliver. This is because the content was pitched slightly high for the audience, although the main message here was that microwaves heat things up by vibrating the water in food. If we were to run this again the cooking section would need to be revised.

2.The UV washing liquid didn�t work as well as it wasn�t highly visible on the paper we used. It may have been better on black paper.

3. From observations less visitors read the archive material on the tables than took part in the experiments, but some of the students did talk to the visitors about the history of domestic appliances and the link to the physics.

Top tips and advice for others

1.The event mostly fulfilled its aims and objectives, although the link between the archive material and the activities could be made more clear. If we were to run this event again in the future then we need to consider how best to make full use of the archive material.



About this project


, , , ,

Project type:

Started (approximately):

1st November 2014

Ended: (approximately)

1st November 2014

Tags for this project:

, , ,

About the contributor

Suzanne Rose
Mass Observation Archive

Relating archive materials to science to engage family audiences…

profile View  's full profile


Science in Society in images

Contribute your science in society images to our Flickr pool. It's easy - here's some step-by-step instructions

How useful is this Memory to you?

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>