From Japanese Maples to Monkey Puzzle Trees: Exploring the Harcourt Arboretum

The Year Eight Museum Council students were very fortunate to be able to visit the Harcourt Arboretum on a beautifully sunny autumn afternoon this week. The Museum Council are starting work on a project to create a tree trail at Cheney to celebrate the amazing nature on our doorstep, and the trip offered the opportunity to find out more about trees and nature. 
 
When we arrived, Dr Lauren Baker, Education Officer, met the group and introduced us all to the arboretum itself. Along with the Botanic Gardens in central Oxford, it forms the University of Oxford's tree and plant collection. Lauren explained how the university had a vast store of seeds from an enormous range of plants, some of which are now extinct in the wild. She showed us the Franklin Tree, which has not been seen in the wild since 1803. Just like animals, trees and plants can also become extinct for a variety of reasons, and the arboretum has some examples of these species. 
 
Lauren then asked Mr Gimson and I to hold two ends of a long rope; at one end, was a card representing the formation of the universe, and at the other, present day was represented. Students had to answer some general knowledge questions about plants and biology more widely, and when they got a correct answer, chose a card representing a key event in the history of life on the planet, and had to work out where to pin it on the rope. We were assisted by a watchful and rather hungry peacock!

Peppered Moths and Unexpected Carvings: Oxford Natural History Museum

This week, our Year Nine Museum Studies students were very lucky to be able to visit the Natural History Museum after a long period of closure. They were greeted outside by Rogder Caseby, education officer, before being led into the main building. There Rodger asked them to think about what the building looked like. Some suggested it reminded them of a cathedral or a train station, with its vast and impressive atrium and glass roof. In fact, as Rodger pointed out, it was designed to be a bit like a temple of learning. He told students to look at the outside entrance as they left the building, where they would see a carving of an angel, holding a Bible in on hand, and a model of a cell in the other. At the time of building in 1855-60, science was viewed as being a pursuit which explored and celebrated divine creation, and so the angel was meant to represent this.


Ancient Skulls, Elephant Teeth and Cockroaches: Introducing Natural History Collections

 
We were very excited to kick off our new Year Nine Museum Course this week with a workshop from Sarah Lloyd, outreach officer at Oxford's Natural History Museum. The course will enable students to explore a range of different museums through visits and workshops; they will each then choose an aspect of museums to develop a display, which they will present at a special evening in April.
 
Sarah started by asking the group what they associated with the Natural History Museum. She pointed out that most people thought of it as the 'dinosaur' museum, but that actually, dinosaurs represent a small part of their very large collections. She showed everyone an image of a large, whitish, ridged object, before bringing out the object itself. There were various guesses about what it might be. It was in fact an elephant's tooth. This particular one had been confiscated from a poacher at Heathrow Airport, and then donated to the museum. She pointed out how the texture gives us information that a picture can't. The sharp edges of this tooth indicate where it would have sat in the gum of the elephant. The weight is also an important aspect of an object.
 
She showed an edible mouse which had been preserved through a process called taxidermy. She explained how the organs would be taken out and a layer of fat put in as part of the process. Creatures like fish and humans make poor taxidermy subjects as their skin is too delicate. The group also discussed the ethical questions that are now often asked about the process, and explained how the museum sought to raise and highlight these in its displays. Origins of the animals are always given. Animals usually come from zoos where they have died.
 
Another exhibit which Sarah had brought was a bristle worm preserved in formaldehyde. She explained that large collections of creatures preserved in this way could be found underneath the museum, where they were in storage. She pointed out that these items gave us lots of useful information, but the fact that they were not alive was a disadvantage in some ways, as living things can give us all sorts of other insights into natural history. She had brought with her some living hissing cockroaches. She explained that the males often fought, and that they noticed that the big ones would fight, and the medium sized ones would lose against the large ones. However, small ones were noted to nibble off the antennas of the large ones - since they use their antenna for seeking out females to mate with, this was a significant disadvantage. As a result, large and small ones tended to survive and reproduce, eventually leading to these two types creating separate subtypes of cockroach.
 
Sarah showed us a skull, which was a replica. The skull was of an early human, and had been called "Lucy", and the original had been discovered in 1974 in Africa. The skull bones dated to 2.3 million years ago, and show evidence of walking on two feet. The skull was still relatively small, showing evidence that walking on two feet came before an increase in brain size. She asked whether it made a difference whether the skull was a replica or not. A replica can give lots of useful information, but it lacks the sense of wonder in holding a very ancient object, and there is also some information that could be lost in the act of making a replica.
 
Finally, the group were asked to discuss whether they might be able to work out from the skull whether people spoke to each other, played as children, cared for their sick and elderly, and what they ate. Students thought that you could tell if there was care for the sick, as there might be evidence of healed bones, for example. However, things like playing needed more evidence.
 
It was a fascinating session, and we are very grateful to Sarah for taking the time to visit us with such interesting objects. We will be visiting the Natural History Museum next Tuesday to see more exhibits, and explore how the museum displays its collection.

Object a Day Project

We are pleased to launch our new Object A Day Project at the Rumble Museum.

We know that most school students in the UK are now learning from home, and we have started this project so that everyone can engage with and explore our collection in a range of ways over the coming weeks.

Every day during the school closure, we will be posting a different Rumble Museum object, as well as including competitions, quizzes and project opportunities.You can follow the objects on a special blog website set up for the project here.

Check back each day to see what’s new!


Rumble Museum Receives Arts Council Accreditation

We are delighted to announce that on 12th March, the Rumble Museum at Cheney School became the first Arts Council Accredited Museum in a UK school, as it was awarded Full Accreditation by the Arts Council. 

Over the past few years, the Museum has been growing throughout the corridors and classrooms of Cheney School, in Oxford, a large comprehensive secondary school, in a very diverse area, where over 30% of the students have English as an additional language, and over 30% of students are on free school meals. 
 
The Rumble Museum at Cheney School is a unique partnership between an educational charity and a school. The Iris Project, a charity which promotes learning about the ancient world, is working with Cheney School to grow a museum within a school. 

The museum has a wide collection of original and replica artefacts, from Greek and Roman coins, lamps and vases, and Egyptian papyrus fragments, to very modern items, like an iPod. It's largest collections are Greek and Roman. There are two very active student Museum Councils who develop and drive forward new projects and displays, and a wide range of events, workshops and other opportunities for the wider public to explore the collections within the school. 
The Museum is named after Jamie Rumble, a young man who devoted his life to improving the lives of young people.

This week, to celebrate the Rumble Museum's Future Season, eight six foot robot models were installed at Cheney School by the Rumble Museum, each designed by a different Cheney student to represent some aspect of the future, from climate change and emergency, to the future of cooking and medicine. You can see all eight robots here.


Sponsor a Robot at the Rumble Museum

 
The Rumble Museum is hosted at Cheney School in East Oxford, and its collections are spread through the school corridors as well as being embedded into the curriculum in a variety of engaging projects, workshops and lessons.
 
We are holding a large community Festival of the Future on March 25th 2020 from 3.30 until 6pm at Cheney School to celebrate the Rumble Museum at Cheney and explore future technology, environmental impact, medicine and more. 
 
As part of this celebration, we are creating an exciting new piece of public art in the form of a model Robot Trail around the site. These robot models will each have their theme designed by Cheney students to represent different ideas about the future and and they will be permanent so that students, staff, and the wider community can explore them for years to come. They will be striking, colourful and educational works of art which will inspire the very diverse community of East Oxford and beyond. 
 
Each robot will cost about £600 and we are planning to have eight robots in our trail (as well as creating eight smaller ones for local primaries to theme). You can see the designs for the eight robots here.
 
We are looking for businesses and organisations who might like to sponsor a robot by providing some or all of the costs towards the model. This sponsorship would be stated on a sign next to the robot as well as on our website, and on the trail maps and brochures we produce.
 
If you would be interested in supporting this initiative at such an exciting juncture in the museum's development, we would be delighted to hear from you.



Robotics Day at the Rumble Museum

On Friday 13th January, over 70 Year Sevens and Eights took part in a robotics workshop, where they were able, in small groups or on their own, to build and programme their own lego robots. The event forms part of the Rumble Museum's Future Season, which involves a series of workshops, talks and events exploring different technologies and ideas about the future, culminating in our Festival of the Future on 25th March (for which a brochure is now available to view online here).

Deborah from Computer Explorers started by introducing the students to some basic components in their kits, and asked the groups initially to follow some instructions to experiment with getting the engines to rotate.

Cities of the Future Event

On Friday 8th November, a group of Year Seven and Eight students took part in the third Rumble Museum Future Season event this term, which involved planning cities of the future! A team from Oxford Brookes University ran an all day workshop exploring how cities have changed in the past, and what sort of things might be realistic and likely in the future.
 
They started the day with a brainstorm in teams of five to get an initial idea of what students imagined cities might be like. A range of interesting points were suggested, with a large number centred upon 'greener' cities. All of the groups felt that travel would be almost entirely electric-powered in the future, and some even imagined 'sky taxis and trains. Cities were imagined to be full of tall buildings, and to be made of glass rather than brick.
 
 
This was followed by a photograph sort activity, where each group was given a 'before and after' photograph for some cities, and they had to work out which went with which. The cities had all changed an enormous amount in just fifty years, and we watched a short video showing how one particular city, Dubai, had changed in fifty years, from a small city in the desert to an enormous, highly modern, tourist city, with stunning design and the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, at 829.8 metres.

Museum Council Project with History of Science Museum

On Thursday 30th January, The Rumble Museum Student Council visited the History of Science Museum to install items, and display boards which they have chosen and designed, into two brand new cabinets. The cabinets are now on display to the public in the museum.
 
Over the past couple of months, the Museum Council have chosen artefacts connected to calculation to display, and designed stories and text which will engage visitors with the artefacts they have chosen. One group chose to explore the evolution of numbers and counting, starting with very early systems such as Linear B, and looking at devices such as a Shepherd's Tally. The other group has decided to explore Charles Babbage's Difference Engine, and thought about striking design ideas to make their cabinet appealing. The groups wrote the text, drew designs, and even made some replica examples and a timeline display stand.

Rumble Museum's Pompeian Street at the Ashmolean Late Opening

On Friday 25th October, the Rumble Museum Student Council took over the Randolph Sculpture Gallery at the Ashmolean Museum to run activities and performances themed on a Pompeian street. The students designed a range of fun street stalls, including the opportunity to make a Roman mosaic of the famous Cave Canem image, jewellery making and artefact handling using objects from the Rumble Museum collection.

Rumble artefacts included a quern stone (used for milling flour at the many Pompeian bakeries), Roman furniture fittings, a dice, mortaria fragments (used in Roman kitchens for grinding herbs) and mosaic tiles. We also brought some pumice stones from Mt Vesuviius.

100 Photographs of the Future: Competition

As part of the Rumble Museum's Future Season, we are holding an exciting competition to capture ideas about the future on camera.
 
To enter, you can submit either one photograph, or a group of connected photographs, which connect with the theme of the future in some way. It could be one photograph capturing a particular idea about the future, or it could be a 'before-and-after' of people or places. If it involves a 'before-and'after' set of photographs, then the 'after' photograph needs to be taken by you, though the 'before' photograph does not need to be taken by you (please do not enter any copyright images). 
 
You also need to supply a paragraph explaining your photograph or group of photographs. 
 
Entry is open to all ages.
 
The winning entries will be turned into large display boards for the Festival of the Future, as well as being made available online on a special website for the project. There may be a display in a central public venue as well.
 
You need to email entries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with "100 Photographs Entry" in the title, and your full name and age in the email. 
 
The deadline for entry is 1st January, 2020
 
We look forward to seeing your photographs!

Robot Model Trail

We are holding a large community Festival of the Future on March 25th 2019 from 3.30 until 6pm at Cheney School to explore the future of society from many different angles, ranging from technological progress to the impact of climate change, from ideas about the future of cities, schools and transport to advances in medicine and neuroscience. The event's keynote speaker is Lord Robert Winston.
 
As part of this celebration, we are creating an exciting new piece of public art in the form of a model Robot Trail around the site. These six foot tall robot models will each have their theme designed by Cheney students to represent different ideas about the future. They will be installed onto eight outdoor plinths so that that students, staff, and the wider community can explore them. They will be striking, colourful and educational works of art which will inspire the very diverse community of East Oxford and beyond. 
 
Each robot will cost about £600 and there will be eight robots in our trail (we are also creating six smaller ones for local primaries to theme). 
 
We are looking for businesses and organisations who might like to sponsor a robot by providing some of the costs towards the model. This sponsorship would be stated on a sign next to the robot as well as on our website, and on the trail maps and brochures we produce.
 
If you are interesting in supporting this exciting art trail, please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.