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Past meets Future for Year 8 at the Shanghai Natural History Museum

07 April 2017
On Monday 20th March, pupils from Year 8 visited the Shanghai Natural History Museum as part of a joint history and science trip. In history, they have recently been exploring the Scientific Revolution of the Renaissance period. During this time, from the late 1500s to the early 1700s, there was a noticeable shift away from relying purely on religion to understand the world around us, towards a more rational, scientific and evidence-based approach. Mr Darren Simpson, who led the trip with Ms Man-Yee Coleman from the science department, explained the importance of understanding this vital period of human history. “In any school subject, we try to improve the pupils’ understanding of how the world works. In history, we do that by looking at what people have said about the past, in order to understand how things have developed. Science takes a different approach of examining the natural world around us. However, these two approaches have a lot in common and the Natural History Museum was the perfect place to show our pupils how science and history often overlap to increase our understanding of our past as well as our present and future.” In the morning, the pupils were treated to a 90-minute guided tour of the museum’s key exhibits, which gave them an excellent overview of everything that it had to offer. This also left them plenty of time in the afternoon to go off and explore other areas and exhibits which caught their eye. The evolution and dinosaur-themed exhibits were a big hit and clearly captured the imagination of the Year 8 pupils: “I thought it was very interesting and cool to see the different exhibitions. My favourite was the dinosaurs because of the exciting way it was presented.” – Anoushka “I particularly enjoyed the exhibit on human evolution. The display clearly demonstrated the evolution of humans from cavemen to intelligent human beings. The tools from ancient times were also well presented.” – Jennifer Another hot favourite was the telescopes exhibit, which informed the pupils about how our understanding of space has rapidly developed over the past 500 years: “I thought that the trip to the Natural History Museum was very interesting, especially the part that talked about Galileo’s telescope and how telescopes started to develop over time. I also liked the part where it talked about the formation of the Earth and pieces of meteorites.” – Stefano Evidently, the Natural History Museum’s recent refurbishment has been a successful one, allowing it to become more engaging and impressive than ever before by displaying a greater range of cultural, natural and historic artefacts from across the globe. The Year 8s in attendance hugely enjoyed their visit and they left with a much clearer understanding of how scientific and historical studies often inform and complement one another. As they head back to the classroom in the new term, they will no doubt have a greater appreciation of how the two subjects have more in common than first meets the eye.