The aim of this project was to take fun physics activities to historical castle settings, in order to engage the general public in new activities and interests which they may not have previously had access too. We believed the castle setting would provide a unique opportunity to share the history of the castle through basic physics principles such as levers, pulleys and forces.
• To engage with 100-150 people at each event. This would ideally include a minimum of 50 people from the areas hosting the event.
• To raise awareness of Techniquest Glyndwr as a fun, interactive and hands-on science learning centre for all of the family to enjoy.
• To make physics available and accessible to communities that may be disadvantaged and remove the barrier of social inequality by providing local events that were free of charge.
Summary of activity:
We held three events across Wrexham and Denbighshire during the 2013 school Summer holidays; at Rhuddlan Castle, Denbigh Castle and Chirk Castle. Both Rhuddlan and Denbigh are owned by Cadw, while Chirk is run by the National Trust. For the two events at the Cadw sites we took part in their larger Festival of Heritage Archaeology days. For the three events we developed three interactive activities for families to take part in: a craft activity for the children, which consisted of making a cardboard box castle complete with its own working drawbridge; a workshop, which involved demonstrating how a trebuchet worked and the participants making their own catapults and using them to fire missiles at a replica castle; and presenter-led interactive demonstrations which focussed on how castles would have been built in a time when modern machinery would not have been available, these included large scale levers and pulley systems, and the chance to build an arch bridge using only friction.
In order to evaluate our activities we requested that each family or group that had seen all three of our sections fill in a short evaluation form.
What went well:
1. By collaborating with Cadw and the National Trust we felt we were able to communicate science in new environments and engage with an audience which might not typically have an interest in physics.
2. At Rhuddlan and Denbigh we saw over double our targeted numbers, the majority of which were local residents who were able to attend for free.
3. Just under half of the people we engaged with overall had not heard of Techniquest Glyndwr before, so we were able to raise awareness of the centre.
4. The feedback for all our activities was positive, particularly for the catapult workshop, with many people commenting that they enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the scientific aspects of castles.
What was learned:
1. Mutual collaboration between organisations can greatly add to the success of a project- we feel that by teaming up with Cadw at their heritage days we were able to engage with a greater number of people that we wouldn’t normally reach, and they were able to offer something different to their visitors, so our collaboration was mutually beneficial.
2. Our evaluation methods at events like this need improvement in order to achieve the quantity of data that we had hoped for in order to provide a better representation of the people we engaged with.
3. Better management of our time in regards to marketing would improve our chances of reaching our target audiences, as we had initially intended to deliver advertising materials such as flyers and posters to local schools before the start of the Summer holidays, but unfortunately it was too late to do this by the time our flyers were printed.
Top tips and advice for others
1. Work with other local organisations to increase your audience.
2. 'Make and take' activities are very popular with families.
3. Give yourself plenty of time to print and deliver marketing materials.