Physics Fun! (Family Science Days)

Project aims:

Aim: to engage families visiting Ryedale Folk Museum with physics.

This project was supported by an IOP public engagement grant.



- to raise awareness of the physics behind some of our collection objects

- to provide opportunities for intergenerational learning

- to de-mystify the subject of physics and illustrate that people 'use' it everyday during their lives

- to build on the museum's school-based work by engaging other members of our community

- to enable different members of the museum team (both staff and volunteers) to develop their science communication skills.

Summary of activity:

We held 6 afternoons of Physics Fun! activities during the summer holiday period. The activities were based in various buildings around the museum site and were influenced by either the buildings, the collections or other summer events. The sessions were all supervised by museum staff/volunteers but were designed for visitors to drop in and try their hand at the activitis/demonstrations themselves. Activities included mangle printing, exploring forces through food, building morse code apparatus and discovering the physics behind circus tricks.

Evaluation approach:

We evaulated our project by keeping a tally of particpants and by talking to them about their thoughts on and reactions to the activities. We also used simple capture forms to allow them to write a few words or draw pictures about what they were thinking.

What went well:

1.We were able to explore new areas of the collection/museum and the activities devised were extremely well recieved.

2.The project had over 300 participants with a very wide range of ages, most definately appealing to visiting family groups and providing the opportunity for them to learn together.

3.We recieved many comments from those participating acknowledging that they now recognised physics as part of what they did everyday.

What was learned:

1.We learnt that such projects will greatly benefit from the ideas and knowledge of professional scientists as they are an invaluable source of information and can help guide what you do to make it more relevant and accurate.

2.Whilst all of our activities could be supervised by one member of staff/volunteer we discovered that monitoring results and collecting quotes etc would be much easier with two.

3.That we can be more confident in using our collection to explore areas of science as even though we are not trained scientists we can use the knowledge of others along wiht our own engagement expertise to create well recieved activities.

Top tips and advice for others

Our top tips to others would be to get involved in science projects such as this one as they really do offer a great opportunity to develop new activities, skills and knowledge as well as to engage new audiences or previous audiences in a new way. Don't let your own 'fears' of science put you off as challenging yourself and moving past it can make you an ideal place to help others do the same.

About this project


Project type:


Started (approximately):

23rd July 2011

Ended: (approximately)

4th September 2011

Tags for this project:

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About the contributor

Emma Colclough
Ryedale Folk Museum

Ryedale Folk Museum is a museum of local rural life based in North Yorkshire. We have over 20 historic buildings either moved from the surrounding areas or based on examples nearby. Together with our …

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