The Silk Industry Museum
FRED AND MILLIE’S CHALLENGE
The party of children count the stairs they ascend to the top floor of Paradise Mill and recover their breath seated on benches in the entrance area. They listen to the brief history of the Silk Mill that was opened in 1862. They are then introduced to Fred and Millie, aged 10 and 7 years old and told that they are going to help them solve problems that their boss has set them.
They look at the clothes that Millie and Fred are wearing and decide what natural fibres the clothes are made from and the origin of those fibres. This leads comfortably into the life cycle of a Silk Moth and children are invited to put the stages of the cycle in the correct order on the magnetic display board. The children are told that silk absorbs dye colours easily and are shown an array of silk bobbins in a range of bright colours. A child steps forward to arrange the bobbins in order of the colours of the spectrum (rainbow). Fred has been set the task of moving some bales of silk wrongly delivered to the floor below. He decides to test different ramps to see which ramp is best. Two children attach a miniature bale to a Newton metre and measure the force necessary to pull it up ramps surfaced with different materials.
The children then embark on a trip round the mill stopping at various points to carry out a number of different tasks. The noise is emitted by the bobbin winder is measured to decide whether it would damage hearing or not. A substitute Millie operates the pirn winder, an example of a pulley. The children are asked where Millie gets her energy from so that she can operate this simple hand-powered machine. The wick braiding machine is operated by a series of clearly visible cogs or gears. 'Can you put these plastic cogs together to show how gears work?'. We then proceed to the mill owners office where the children are asked to to help his wife choose the best material for some curtains at home. They hold up the samples to the light and decide whether they are transparent, translucent or opaque.
On the way back to the Silk Museum, the children test the properties of parachutes made from different materials to decide which one would be best on James Bond's next secret mission. Life doesn't get much more exciting!
BOMBYX BOFFINS, SCIENCE WORKSHOP
Let me introduce you to our two Victorian children Fred and Millie. Fred is 10 years and Millie is 7 and they both work at Paradise Mill, one of the Silk Mills in Macclesfield. You are our scientists and are going to help Fred and Millie solve some problems set by their boss.'
Excited children don lab coats and safety glasses in their new role as scientists. They sit at 4 workstations and are introduced to Cedric the Silkworm who tells them how scientists discover how things work using the Science Investigation Process. Children are then made aware of how the experiments they will be doing incorporate various elements of the Science Investigation Process. Children are encouraged to explain words and phrases such as 'Prediction' or 'Fair Test' before they open their workbooks to discover the first task. Once the timer is set the children fly into action and begin experimenting!
Two young scientists in their white coats and safety glasses investigate the properties of natural and man-made fibres using silk and nylon thread carefully supervised as they dangle short lengths of the fibres held in tightly gripped forceps over a night light. Two others at the same station investigate the colours that go to make up different dyes using simple chromatography techniques and by creating their own rainbows using red, yellow and blue dyes on a piece of silk.
'Excited cries of 'WOW' are coming from another station where children are observing different material samples under the microscope and deciding whether the fabric is knitted, woven or non-woven. Loud thuds are coming from the next station where children have been predicting and testing the strength of different fibres by adding 100gram masses to the hanger suspended from a loop of fibre. Children wait expectantly for the thud when the loop snaps and the weights fall onto the table.
At the final station, children predict and then test whether the objects before them are magnetic or not. They also have to construct a simple electrical circuit to demonstrate to the mill workers how this 'new' invention works. Finally if time allows there is a 'feely box' where children can see if they can identify different objects just by and the materials they are made from just by touching them.
At the end of the session, children will be asked to present their findings and discuss which experiment was NOT a good example of a Fair Test!
THE SPECTRUM GALLERY
Combined with these activities pupils and teachers can also make a tour of the Spectrum Gallery where pupils can discover more about: the life cycle of the silk worm, the history of silk making, weaving, dyes, colour and light, forces and fabric design.
A PARADISE MILLTOUR,dealing with machinery and inventions, or social and working conditions of textile workers. (Talks tailored to individual requirements)
WEAVING, OR PRINTING WORKSHOPS(based on the designs of William Morris) are available.
Time: 10am - 2pm. Price £7.50 per child.