Polar Museum: School visits and information for teachers

School Visits

On Wednesdays, the Polar Museum although closed to the general public, will be open for pre-booked school group visits (one morning/one afternoon). Priority will be given to school groups who are visiting as part of a polar project. This arrangement will last until the end of 2021. You will lead your group around the museum accompanied by a member of our education team. We are happy to lend you clipboards and pencils. There is a suggested donation of £1 per child for a class group visit to the Polar Museum.

Ancient Maya Rituals and Beliefs

Rituals and Beliefs focuses on the scene from a plaster cast taken of a stone lintel from the doorway of a temple in the city of Yaxchilan, now in modern day Mexico, and dating from 709AD.

The images depict a blood-letting ritual being performed by Lady K'ab'al Xook and her husnabd King Shield Jaguar. Lady K'ab'al Xook can be seen pulling a rope of thorns through her tongue in order to collect blood in a bowl filled with bark paper. Both figures are wearing jade and obsidian jewellery and dressed in resplendent costumes made fo fur and elaborate fabrics. 

Ancient Maya

How did the ancient Maya express their identity? What objects did they use to show their power? What can archaeology tell us about Maya life? These are some of the questions we will discuss while students learn how to read a Maya monument and handle objects from Central and South America.

Bouncy 'sea urchin' egg

How does burning fossil fuels threaten Antarctic marine life?

This experiment demonstrates the link between increasing carbon dioxide levels and ocean acidification and freshening oceans. Freshwater and more acidic water in the oceans make life harder for Antarctica’s marine animals.

The experiment and video were made by Nick Barrett. Nick is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge Earth Science Department and The British Antarctic Survey investigating the resistance of Antarctic marine species to predicted freshening and lower salinity in the Southern Ocean.

Slinky waves

When an earthquake occurs energy spreads outwards, shaking the ground as it goes. Just like when you drop a pebble into a pond and see the ripples spreading outwards on the surface, the energy from an earthquake also spreads outwards.

In this experiment you will find out about the different types of earthquake waves.

Download the instructions and information sheet

Shaky structures

When an earthquake occurs near a town or city it can cause lots of damage. In areas where there are lots of earthquakes, engineers must design earthquake-proof buildings which sway with the motion of the earthquake, rather than cracking and breaking. But what kind of structures do you think make good earthquake-proof buildings?

In this experiment you can make some earthquake-proof buildings of your own, using cocktail sticks and marshmallows. Give them a shake on some wobbly jelly to simulate an earthquake, and see how well the hold up!

Wonderfully waxy volcano in a cup

Hot magma beneath a volcano always wants to move up towards the surface. This is because it is a hot liquid and is less dense that the surrounding rock and so rises upwards. But as a magma rises it cools and eventually turns into solid rock...

In this experiment you will see what happens when melted wax moves through layers of sand and water, just like magma moves through layers of rock to reach the Earth's surface.

Download the instructions and information sheet

Eruption in a fish tank

When there is an explosive volcanic eruption a large amount of material is thrown up into the air in an eruptive plume or column, made up of tiny rock fragments and very hot gases. The material is initially thrown upwards by the force if the explosion, but it keeps rising and stays airborne for a long time... so what stops it falling down?

In this experiment you can create your own eruptive column in a fish tank and find out what it is that makes it rise.