Visitors to the Science in St Albans exhibition at St Albans Museum + Gallery between October 2019 and March 2020 were asked “What are the big question scientists should be exploring?”
Colourful post-its, each 3 inches square, were provided with a good supply of pencils. Clearly this appealed to young children as well as adults and over 680 post-its were submitted. There were wide-ranging questions, loads of ideas, light-hearted comments, sketches and scribbles.
The challenge in collating and sorting the material was not just the wide variety of subjects addressed: many of the children were still practising handwriting and learning how to spell. In order to transcribe, one had to decipher the words and translate the phonetics, but a fair number remained baffling and had to be set aside.
Having done this, it was entertaining entering the 660 post-its into Excel for counting, coding and sorting by subject. There were over 250 questions about the galaxy, the solar system and life on other planets, with 108 related directly to planet Earth; impressive were the 69 asking what can we do about climate change and global warming, with pollution clearly a concern. Then there were 150 with thoughts about human life and attitudes, some quite serious and philosophical.
Health care and psychology, evolution and biology accounted for another 150 and, in the latter period of the exhibition, coronavirus appeared - changing all our lives: how to stop it, how to cure it, and where did it come from, they asked.
Still, we did have science fiction, robots and aliens to lighten the mood, and there were plenty of jokes. Here’s just one: “Who’s the best person in the World? ME”.
By volunteer Frances Hornby.
Frances is part of a team of volunteers who help us collate and record all of our visitor feedback to our exhibitions.