Sun Lates at the Science Museum
28 November 2018
Blog by Helen Schell

(click on photos to see more)

Every month, the Science Museum offers an adults-only free opportunity to explore the museum in the evening with a different theme. In November the theme was the Sun, which complemented their current exhibition. Invited organisations provide live music, art & craft workshops, talks and a silent disco. The SunSpaceArt activity was there: Helen Schell (artist and ESERO-UK space ambassador), Clare Dudeney (artist), Christabel Forbes (artist), Dr Dagny Kimberly-Yousuf (physicist & cosmologist) and Dr Krishna Mooroogen (solar physicist). The theme of the workshop was: ‘Can you unfold the Sun and fold space to create a solar satellite pop-up card? Solar physics and art converge in this inspirational interactive workshop with live science demonstrations’.

This was a drop-in, make & take workshop, which presented solar science inspired art & craft techniques. The science was informed by two specialist scientists. Three professional artists assisted participants with their interpretation of the solar science and their making techniques. The workshop, which was hard work but a lot of fun, lasted 2.5 hours allowing for 150 people to participate in the SunSpaceArt activities.

Our workshop was situated on the third floor in the Picnic Area, which meant we had lots of space and huge tables where we could spread out the art and science activities. This allowed us to have a 9 metre long art & craft table which seated 25 people at one go creating a great energy and exchange of ideas. The participants were shown examples of pop-up space themed cards and asked to produce their own versions using a range of coloured cards and papers with decorative materials. They could also make pop-up stars, which were very popular, and by the end on the evening there was a splendid star tower. The art activities were run by Helen, Clare and Christabel.

The science activities had two formats, one being practical demonstrations reflecting light waves and solar science using Chladni plates, resonating bowls and straw waves. This was run by Dagny. To complement this, Krishna had beautiful on-screen solar images with lots of brochures and booklets. A display book was created to show the workshop at Blanche Neville School, a school for deaf children. These children responded very well to solar science involving vibrations and waves. They made some wonderful artwork. There was also a range of postcards showcasing work from other schools which gave teachers, in particular, the chance to see our education work and request more information. There was a large group of primary school teachers attending the event and new contacts were made.

Alongside these activities, Helen Schell displayed her ‘Hi Vis’ ball-gown – the Beam Dress which is very popular at these events as it lights up on flash photos changing it from bright orange and yellow to black and white, causing lots of surprised looks.

This was the first time the SunSpaceArt team had run a drop-in workshop on this scale using their specialist abilities in art and science, so they too learnt new skills and shared techniques with other members of the team, enriching possibilities for future workshops of this nature. The Science Museum were very pleased with our participation and have invited us back again.