University of Cambridge Museums

Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums

Subject Taster Week 2015

“There is, as a result of this week, a clear enthusiasm in our students to take any opportunity that comes along.”

Paul Murray, Head of Community, Oasis Academy

 This September 90 A’ Level students from across the country took part in the University of Cambridge Museums’ first ever ‘Subject Taster Week’. The week’s programme offered discussions through object led enquiry which were then related to individual A’ Level subjects. Students were encouraged to apply their knowledge of critical thinking and analysis, approaching their exploration of a subject in a different way.

Each of the collection led sessions encompassed topics written for national exam papers.  Museum Educators used objects and paintings within their collections to lead discussions around specialities such as Shakespeare and Darwin.

“I thought the Subject Taster Week sounded very insightful, and as I am doing English for A Level, I wanted to have a bit of background knowledge to further strengthen my understanding of the subject course.”

“A visit to the Whipple museum appeals to me as I find the sciences fascinating. I am keen to find out more about the history of science. I would also like to visit Cambridge University and to get a feel of the university culture.”

Comments from two participants.

St Catharine’s College

St Catharine’s College

However alongside visits to the museums, the students also gained an insight into University life. Firstly through informal discussions with Subject Lecturers at University of Cambridge, and secondly through a visit to one of the University’s Colleges. This addition to the programme was particularly welcomed by the students, as 51% were intending to apply to the University of Cambridge.

We are thankful to the following Lecturers for their invaluable contributions to the Taster Week Programme.

Dr Fred Parker, Clare College and Dr Ewan Jones, Downing College – for their contributions to the A’ Level English Literature session ‘Visionaries and Romantics.’

Dr Jason Scott-Warren, Gonville and Cauis and Professor John Kerrigan, St John’s College – for their contributions to the A’ Level English Literature session ‘Shakespeare’s World.’

Dr Trish Biers, McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research for the writing and delivery of two A’ Level sessions ‘Adorning the Dead: Rituals of the Afterlife’, and ‘The Modified Body’ relating to A’ Level World Archaeology and Anthropology.

Of the students who visited the University Museums during Taster Week, 80% were new visitors. They all came with the intention of finding out more about University life and opportunities their chosen subjects can bring in higher education. We very much hope that Taster Week offered this insight.

“It was incredibly interesting! It made me appreciate the struggles involved in the advancements of science.”

“I was delighted to be able to have first-hand contact with artefacts and have discussions about its purpose and origin.”

“It was interesting to see real art work which brought it more to life.”

Feedback from participants.

“It is about raising the aspirations of our students and trying to show them that if you apply yourself there is no limit to what you can do. Over the two days our students were inspired by what they saw and did and they appreciated the time and effort taken by the University of Cambridge Museums.”

Paul Murray, Head of Community, Oasis Academy

With extended thanks to
Museum Educators
Sarah Blake, The Fitzwilliam Museum
Lorena Bushell, Whipple Museum of the History of Science
Sarah Jane Harknett, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Jennie Thornber, Museum of Classical Archaeology

Schools Liasion Officers
Megan Goldman Roberts, St John’s College
Martin Thompson, Peterhouse
Alexandra Rutterford, Newnham College
Sam Twell, Corpus Christi College
Anita Magee, Emmanuel College
Chris Waugh, St Catharine’s College

Lucy Sercombe, Learning Associate (Arts Award and Widening Participation), The Fitzwilliam Museum

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