Alternative Art Studios… The Science Laboratory Part Two

Last week we explored how scientists at the University of Manchester use their science labs, and how they compare to the artist studio. This week we will be looking at the ways in which learning can take place within the laboratory, and how this can help us as we prepare to move into the Clore Learning Studio in autumn.

Manchester Museum, The Whitworth’s partner institution, has its own laboratory space within the Museum that is used for learning sessions with high school and sixth form students. The Science programme is delivered by a team of PhD student demonstrators who are all current researchers at the University of Manchester. This means that pupils get an opportunity to work in an authentic environment with real scientists. Emily Robinson, the Lab’s coordinator, says that the PhD students are there to facilitate experiments, not to teach classes. Emily states that this allows those taking part to gain a different experience than they would in the classroom at school, as they gain practical experience of working in a laboratory and conducting experiments themselves.

The sessions undertaken by pupils in the Museum’s laboratory are also supported by specimens from the Museum’s collection, and have a link to current scientific debates. This encourages pupils to think about the real world applications and ethical considerations of their experiments, as though they were professional scientists.

The Science programme at the Manchester Museum offers a hands-on, exploratory approach to learning, allowing young people to engage with scientific research in a unique and exciting way. The learning team at the Whitworth hope to create a similar atmosphere in the Clore Learning Studio. Our aim is to create an environment that allows learners to develop their own ideas about art, and express themselves with creative freedom. As practical spaces both the science lab and the art studio offer opportunities for experimental learning based on authentic experience and personal development. By observing how our colleagues at Manchester Museum use laboratories as environments for learning, we are able to identify similar possibilities within the artist studio at the Whitworth.

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Students using the science lab at Manchester Museum, image courtesy of Emily Robinson at the Manchester Museum

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Students in the Manchester Museum Science Lab, Image courtesy of Emily Robinson at the Manchester Museum

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