National Museum focuses on saving planet with sustainability showcase

The Energy Wheel in use on Science Saturday, which runs alongside the Our Green Future  programme of events at the National Museum of Scotland. 'Photograph: Neil Hanna
The Energy Wheel in use on Science Saturday, which runs alongside the Our Green Future programme of events at the National Museum of Scotland. 'Photograph: Neil Hanna
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International climate experts this week issued the starkest warning yet about the perilous state of the planet and the urgent need for humankind to take major action to limit global warming.

It might seem an impossible task to many, but a new green showcase at the National Museum of Scotland could offer some hope for the future.

A programme of events being staged this week, entitled Our Green Future, will allow visitors to learn all about sustainability and eco-friendly living.

There will be a host of interactive and hands-on activities around wildlife conservation, renewable energy and recycling.

The museum has also scheduled a series of special Science Saturdays, which focus on themes highlighting the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths.

As part of the activities, members of RSPB Scotland’s Dolphinwatch team showed off plastic litter found during beach cleans to illustrate the dangers to wildlife from man-made debris and to encourage recycling.

Clare Meakin, science engagement manager for National Museums Scotland, said: “We’ve run Science Saturdays on all sorts of different science topics like anatomy, coding, encryption and even viruses and bacteria.

“It’s fantastic to have both our curators and learning teams at these events, and also people who do active research or work in science careers that explore the world around us and look at how it’s changed over time.

“Our Green Future – the theme for our activities over half-term – will look at different aspects of our environment and what impact we have.

“We’ll be exploring more about plastics, what they are, how we use them and what we can do to reduce impact on the environment through our own actions. Scotland is a world leader in developing new green technologies, so we’ll be exploring renewable energy and we’ll be talking about nature’s recyclers and looking at some of our insect collections with our entomologist.”

Meakin said she believed the museum offered a unique opportunity for people get to grips with novel concepts and complicated technologies.

“Having something physically in front of you can really help to understand more about science ideas and new research and how that relates to our lives now and in the future,” she said.

Adam Ross, membership and engagement officer for RSPB Scotland, said getting up close and examining the rubbish found on beaches can turn up nasty surprises, particularly the length of time some commonly discarded items take to decompose.

“The likes of cigarettes can take years, although most people think because they’re made of paper they will disappear very quickly,” he said.

“Banana skins can be over a year as well. Things that people think are biodegradable often aren’t.”

Funding for the collaboration came from the ScottishPower Foundation.

Ann McKechin, trustee and executive officer for the organisation, said: “Both National Museums Scotland and RSPB Scotland have vast amounts of knowledge and insights into how we can make our lives more sustainable.” Our Green Future starts today and runs until Friday in the museum’s Hawthornden Court.