The Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Leeds

The Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Leeds

Kiara White and Liz Stainforth, 15.02.2013
The Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Leeds preserves and provides access to artefacts from the university’s scientific past.

It integrates collections into teaching and research, and hosts a diverse programme of exhibitions, events and outreach activities that promote the study of the history and material culture of science.

Object handling workshops and re-enactments are among these activities. Recent sessions for school groups have focused on the museum’s history of medicine collection, in which students learn about the development of anaesthesia and asepsis by taking part in demonstrations using a 19th-century amputation kit.

They are then presented with mystery objects to test their investigative skills. These might include obstetric forceps, monaural stethoscopes or anaesthetic equipment. The aim is to work out how the objects were used. Questions such as “what is it made of?” and “what does the shape tell us about it?” are used as prompts.

These sessions present students with the opportunity to be creative and use independent thinking, while the experience of handling the objects is always exciting – if occasionally stomach-churning.

A host of museum volunteers, made up of university students, assist staff with these sessions, giving them the opportunity to develop their communication skills and gain experience engaging with young learners.

The sessions are also important for identifying curriculum links with the collections and help to foster relationships with schools in the local area. Future aims include forging links with community and adult learning groups through interactive workshops.

Kiara White and Liz Stainforth are volunteer members of the Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Leeds. For further information about the museum’s educational activities and collections, please contact the museum’s director Claire Jones: C.L.Jones@leeds.ac.uk

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