Takeover Day in Museums 2012


A project with St. Kenelm's CE (VC) Primary School to develop a new family backpack

In November every year Kids in Museums co-ordinate a nationwide event called Takeover Day.  Museums, galleries, and other organisations invite children and young people to take over for the day and get involved.  So, in November 2012 we invited the Year 6 pupils from St. Kenelm's CE (VC) Primary School near Witney to come and join us.  We were interested in developing a new family activity backpack for the Botanic Garden, and thought the children would like to help.

The aims of this project for the Botanic Garden were:

  • To try out a new way of working with young people
  • To listen to our audience so we better understand young people's needs and interests
  • To develop a new family backpack for 2013


The aims of the project for the pupils were:

  • To develop a deeper understanding of the Botanic Garden
  • To contribute to a new family backpack for 2013
  • To celebrate the launch of the backpack in March 2013



Visit 1: November 2012

On the pupils' first visit to the Botanic Garden we introduced Kids in Museums and the ideas behind Takeover Day.  We also discussed the different types of work we do here at the Garden, particularly our conservation work.  We then took a tour around the site and had a look at the Botanic Garden's existing backpacks which are already on offer to our family visitors: Looking, Finding, Games, Medicinal and Measuring.  The evaluation of the backpacks included thinking about:

  • What's good about them?
  • What's not so good about them?
  • What do you need to consider when compiling a backpack?
  • How do you write backpack and activity instructions?


In the afternoon, the pupils worked in groups to develop ideas for a new Plant Hunter backpack, which would introduce our visitors to the concept of ex situ plant conservation, and the importance of biodiversity.  Each group considered the types of resources and activities they wanted to include, finalised their choice and wrote the instructions for their activity.  They then took it in turns to present their ideas back to the rest of the class.


Feedback from the pupils

  • I loved doing all the things in the backpack and exploring things in the garden.  It was really good because I haven't done nothing like that before.  When we was looking around I found it very exciting.
  • I might ask if I can come and test the new rucksack we made and see how good my game is
  • I learnt that there are lots and lots of plants that are interesting and different
  • I liked going round with the bags and looking around and think that it's a nice family thing to do
  • I had an amazing time and would like to visit again


Feedback from the teacher

I feel the children had a worthwhile and excellent educational experience.  They had to look, listen, discuss and co-operate and engage in public speaking and all with a real purpose in mind.



Visit 2: January 2013

On the group's second visit we further developed the Plant Hunter Backpack idea.  After exploring the Botanic Garden in the snow, we got to work producing the backpack resources.  The pupils drew:

  • A world map
  • 12 flags
  • 7 different food plants
  • 7 different leaf shapes
  • 14 self portraits


The pupils were very careful with their artwork, which was later scanned, then printed and laminated to produce the finished version for each backpack.  The instructions for each activity were confirmed also.



Feedback from the pupils

  • I found the activities very interesting and I thought the activity backpack was a great idea for your Botanic Garden
  • The thing that I enjoy was going to see all the plants and doing the backpacks.  When I was doing the backpack I felt happy!
  • The best part was when we had to draw the flags, I had to draw the Brazilan flag
  • I loved making the backpacks, I think people will love them
  • I had a really amazing time and it was much MUCH more fun that being at school
  • I can't wait to see our backpack ready!!
  • I really enjoyed makeing the bag for other people to use



Visit 3: March 2013

In March 2013 the pupils returned to the Botanic Garden for the launch of the backpacks.  We started the day outside the Garden, and came in through the ticket office to simulate what a family would do if they were visiting the Garden.  We spoke about the procedure for families to borrow the backpacks, and then we borrowed some for road-testing!

The pupils explored the finished backpacks, and were able to see how all their work had been transformed into the finished items.




We then went outside to use them in the Garden, and try the various activities.  We thought about:

  • What worked well?
  • What could we improve?



While we were testing the backpacks we were joined by a photographer from the Oxford Mail, and the project was featured on their website.

Afterwards we continued exploring what it means to be a modern plant hunter.  The pupils had a look at some of the Botanic Garden's herbarium specimens, and then went out to collect their own from the Garden.  After each making a mini plant press, the pupils carefully arranged their specimens for pressing and drying.



Feedback from pupils

  • When I saw our plant hunter bag I felt proud that our class made it together.  I liked how each trip we lurnt lots of other thing, as we done the backpacks.
  • It was very fun and I enjoyed doing it.  I liked doing the plant hunt because we was yousing the bag we made.
  • I enjoyed all the different varieties of plants to find!  When I opened the backpack I was very suprised of all of the amazing things inside!
  • I liked chosing what the bag was going to be about.  I really enjoyed looking for plants that was in the same countrie as the flags, and also enjoyed looking for the fruits because I thought it was fun.
  • I loved wearing the hat and predending to be explorers in the jungle.  I found it fun doing your own pressed flowers and Im glad we did snowdrops becuase their one of my favourite flowers.
  • I found it great when I found out we were creating things for the backpacks for visitors, I felt really excited because I knew everyone (visitors) will know that we created these backpacks.
  • The fairst time I came hear I thought it was going to be good but then I was getting into it, it was getting better then I loved it!
  • It was fun because we got to see the garden and use our ideas to make our plant hunters packs.  I feel proude that our class made the pack and the public are going to use them.
  • All the activities were really fun and a bit of a challenge


For more information on our backpacks, take a look at our Backpack Archive page.