Environment in association with the Mirror

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000

Submitted by: Woodward Markwell


A Sunny Future! Inspiring budding engineers with sustainable technology at the Museum of East Anglian Life

Our project is about inspiring the next generation of engineers by involving local children in designing and installing solar technology on the roof of the museum.

Children from our local school, Abbot’s Hall Primary School, will work with specialist solar engineers, East Green Energy Ltd, and museum educators, to design, install and monitor the energy saved by installing solar panels at the museum.

We already have a historic watermill and a historic wind pump on display. Adding solar power would allow us to bring the story right up to the current day and show our visitors how different types of renewable energy have been harnessed over the centuries. We will create a permanent public display around the solar panels to explain how the technology works to visitors and acknowledge the importance of this grant to the sustainability of the museum itself.

Abbot’s Hall Primary School’s logo is the museum’s wind pump. There are over 390 pupils and the school is keen to get involved in activities which enrich their pupils’ learning. Headteacher Rachel Bailey thinks ‘the project will be an exciting opportunity to not only bring the curriculum to life but to also give our pupils the opportunity to work with our neighbour the museum in developing a permanent feature supporting the environment and therefore our community.’

This project will have a long-term legacy: the museum will use energy in a more sustainable way – reducing costs and carbon consumption – and the learning materials created through the project will benefit many more children beyond those who take part in the original installation of the solar panels.

The educational resources developed through our project will be used to create a model for future sessions with schools focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. The exploration of renewable energy in the form of solar panels and historical use of renewable power can be tailored to all key stages of the National Curriculum. The curriculum links include the ability to solve problems, reasoning, describing and comparing different quantities, compiling data, scientific enquiry, recording data, investigation and understanding of design and technology, use of renewable energy resources and the use of natural resources.

The workshops will be hands-on, creative and will help to change the way some children view STEM subjects. In May 2016 the Museum held three days of science activities for schools with 438 children attending. The events were oversubscribed and some schools and home educating groups were unable to attend due to the demand for places. This illustrates a demand for science-based workshops in Suffolk and currently there are no opportunities in the county for school children to explore renewable energy. Melanie Barrow, executive head teacher of primary schools in the rural villages of Laxfield and Stradbroke, says: ‘the children enjoy taking part in projects at the museum and it’s just the type of project we would get involved in. The learning materials will inspire and provide more learning opportunities and we could use them to monitor our own solar panels’.

We have already secured competitive quotes and got the support of all the partners. The funding from this grant would cover the whole project – including materials and professional time – which we would complete by the end of 2017. We are a registered charity and a community hub working with a diverse audience of all ages and backgrounds – we won Mid Suffolk District Council’s Business Contribution to the Community award in 2015.

By voting for our project you will support a high-quality learning project and promote the importance of looking after our natural resources.

Museum of East Anglian Life

Location: Stowmarket

The Museum of East Anglian Life seeks to inspire visitors with stories of life in East Anglia in years gone by. We were awarded Suffolk Museum of the Year in 2015 and we have a thriving community of volunteers. This project is about us investing in the future as well as the past.
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