At the Heritage Trust one of our aims is to promote interest in the history of the area, in particular that of the two unique structures we have, namely the Menai Suspension Bridge and the Britannia Bridge, to school children through our education programme. This is primarily to schools in the Gwynedd and Anglesey area but further afield whenever the opportunity arises.
To this end we provide half day workshops which consists of a short presentation giving a brief history and background followed by a walk across the Menai Bridge when the children can appreciate the scale of the structure and an insight to what was involved in its construction. They also get an opportunity to have “hands on” experience of constructing a simple suspension bridge and a tubular bridge in the museum.
In addition, we offer a full day session when they are challenged in the afternoon to construct a model of a bridge in groups using Knex (similar to Lego) to span a gap of 1m and to see how much weight their bridge can carry. With young children, whose attention span is limited, the “hands on” experience creates interest and the competition between the groups for the Knex bridge adds to their enjoyment.
We can also vary the presentations to suit specific requirements the schools may have, for example they may have a school project which involves transport when we can include discussions on vehicles and the shipping history of the Strait.
We are fortunate in that among our volunteers we have a number of retired schoolteachers as well as the more specialised professional engineers since “pitching” the correct level of presentations is vital. It is the intention to extend the service we offer and we are now in consultation with all the local schools in order to get an input from them as to what they would like to get from the museum. Hopefully this will enable us to provide an even better educational experience.