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Guest blog from volunteer Lizzie Nicholson

9 June 2015
SHARE with Schools 2014-15 student volunteer Lizzie Nicholson
SHARE with Schools 2014-15 student volunteer Lizzie Nicholson

Lizzie Nicholson: My SHARE with Schools


One of the hardest parts was keeping the children engaged

I’m Lizzie Nicholson. I’m in my first year studying Archaeology BSc. I thought SHARE with Schools was a great opportunity to meet other students, help develop my skills, introduce me to a career in schools and to do something different outside my degree programme.

I did workshops for students years 7, 8, and 9. The workshops covered archaeological science and museum curation. First we had to present to the children what we were going to be doing and tell them a little bit about archaeological science techniques or museum curation. One of the hardest parts was keeping the children engaged, but I managed this by making sure I knew what I was talking about and engaging the students with questions.

The workshops themselves were really good fun because they were so interactive and it was something different for the children to get involved in. The museum curation workshop was good because it encouraged the children to do a lot of different things including drawing and research. They were really enthusiastic too, as it was very hands on and they had the artefacts in front of them. This raised its own problems though, as the children were easily distracted with having all the artefacts in front of them. It was difficult to keep the children on task, because I was just as interested in them all as the children were! An improvement in the future would be to encourage the children to complete the tasks before experimenting with the objects instead of experimenting with them!

The archaeological science workshop was a little harder because the children didn’t understand the methods so well so I had to explain that to them carefully, but it got them thinking a lot and using a cluedo-style game at the end was really fun.

I felt quite nervous for the first workshop I did because even though I knew what to do I didn’t really know what would happen. I overcame this quickly though because the first group of children were fantastic. Although the other two groups we had that day – for archaeological science – weren’t quite as enthusiastic, I felt all the workshops went well as I was able to engage the children with the help of other staff. This was one of the biggest challenges. The second set of workshops I did I felt much more prepared for as I already knew what was likely to happen. This was the museum collections workshop, so the children were much more engaged throughout this one as it was very practical.

workshops boosted my confidence a lot and helped me with public speaking

Overall, I think all the workshops I took part in went well. I enjoyed it particularly because the workshops I was delivering were on subjects I really enjoy and am passionate about, and communicating this and inspiring other people in the subject areas was a definite highlight! We had a lot of positive feedback, and the teachers who got involved in the archaeological science workshop really enjoyed it. I think the pupils enjoyed the workshops too, because they were engaging and practical and something most of children had never really done before. Plus it was different to a normal school day of maths and English which is always a bonus!

Personally, the workshops boosted my confidence a lot and helped me with public speaking – I nearly always speak too fast. It also helped with team building a lot because, the archaeological science one in particular, I had to work with the other volunteers who would come round and add additional information to help out with identifying the skeleton. Leadership skills were something else I had to develop, because I was working with a group of 4 or 5 children and had to make sure they kept on task and moved forward when they needed to. Leading and working with children was quite different than with people my own age, so it was interesting to make that transition and appreciate the diversity within the group, such as their individual styles of working.

I really enjoyed all the workshops I took part in, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who knows they want to work with children or is thinking about it but isn’t too sure, to anyone who want to build a range of transferable skills, and anyone who is looking for [something] a bit different that’s still a lot of fun.