Wow – and no I don’t mean Team 5s Wonder of Water – I mean WOW! We did it!
Last year, I came back from Museomix knowing I had to bring this experience to the UK. Would people understand? Would people show? Would they get what I got from the experience?
The answer is YES!
I think I speak for all of Orga team when I say ‘Holy Smoly!’ Or Beeep beep beep beep!
The following is a fast forward version of MuseomixUK. There are going to be people who read this thinking I forgot this part, or missed this part – rest assured I didn’t forget anything! Anyone who is trying to capture MuseomixUK in a post will know the struggle of adding everything.
On Friday, I witnessed people from all over the UK travel to Ironbridge Gorge Museum in the gorgeous Shropshire. Many had the ‘deer in headlights’ look that I sort of knew was going to happen. To avoid this as much as possible, I put three very friendly Shropshire faces on registration (huge thanks to Susan, Marissa and Theresa!)
During the introduction we warned people that their name badges made them part of the MuseomixUK community. I’m sure no one understood what that meant.
First step (in this fast forward version of Museomix) was a brief update to everyone on Museomix (I know they were still confused but they nodded in the right places). We also asked the Tech Shop and Fab Lab crew to talk about supplies and equipment available for teams to use (oh yes, this was met with massive blank stares but that’s ok as it made sense eventually).
Then we had Bingo and Team making. Oh what fun that was! We had 12 people pitch ideas ranging from bringing the furnace to life, doing something with the fountain, bringing the map to life and making an app. People that didn’t pitch then had to sign up for a team. This, for the fly on the wall, was mayhem but in a positive way! In the end, we had 7 teams: 5 ‘proper’ teams and 2 cousins (they didn’t have the right amount of people but they were still family!).
After this – I can not describe fully the work that was done. Straight after the teams were created, it was lunch which gave each team time to bond … or not. The communication person was taught how to run the social media / website and other important ‘maintenance’ items happened.
When teams got back to their work areas (brilliantly created by students at New College Telford) things got busy… or they should have. Some teams got running faster then others but this wasn’t a competition! I personally found things quiet – too quiet. Then it was pointed out: everyone was being British. We needed to encourage honesty and discussions for teams to stop settling and think BIG (within parameters the Coaches set 😉 ).
In the evening we gather everyone together and reviewed the day. Each team had to present a prototype (video/ lego / verbal) to show their progression. There were a few questions / comments but not many. People were still playing it safe.
However…. Day 2 soon arrived and this is when ALL light bulbs and switches seem to click at once. It was AMAZING seeing participants suddenly ‘get Museomix.’
Day 2 was intense, emotional, tough, but boy were the wheels of creativity running. Teams were working like a fine oiled machined … oh god I couldn’t even type that without laughing. I’m not going to lie – Day 2 was hard. Arguments, disagreements with a bit of counselling thrown in.
‘This is going to work! Oh no, no it won’t, what about this? ‘
I’m forever grateful for the Tech Shop (especially Dominic) and Fab Lab (Al & David) crew who put out a lot of fires (figuratively and literally!) during this experience. Majority of the conflicts came from miscommunication about what could be done. Having the Geek Squad on hand and ready to facilitate the conversation really help participants dream big – bigger than they probably thought possible for their time limits.
By this stage, one team was about to quit, another team changed their first topic to something completely different and another team didn’t quite know what they were doing but all assumed each other did.
But they were still working towards SOMETHING.
Another group of people who I have to mention are the coaches, led by Anne Prugnon. They went around each team and provided valuable direction and encouragement throughout MuseomixUK. Their job was not an easy one – they, at times, had to be the mean guys that burst the bubble of what was already agreed by with the team. I didn’t envy them at all but by god they made sure everyone was happy with their Eye of the Tiger theme and smiles every evening at the get together! See this video of the MuseomixUK Dance to see what I mean.
By our evening get together, you could cut the tension with a knife. However, every team had something substantial for their prototype. They moved from Lego to an actual tangible prototype (that needed just a bit of polishing).
It was time for alcohol. The pub was calling. While the majority of the teams left, a few members stayed back to work. We virtually had to kick them out at 11!
Day 3 came around A LOT quicker than anyone would have like. There was a real buzz and energy by 8am – everyone was hands on, no one was able to stop. The Geek Squad who on Friday I was worried would be bored as everyone suggested apps/ Virtual Reality options, were soldering, creating, making like elfs in Santa’s workshop.
Teams had to have their prototypes ready for 12.30 crash test (which soon changed to 1.30 as everyone was finishing off bits and pieces). This gave each team a chance to run through their prototype with us (Orga, coaches, etc). We gave constructive feedback and reminded them to prepare for public opening at 3pm.
Keeping in mine Ironbridge Gorge Museums is in the middle of Gorgeous Shropshire, there was a bit of worry as to if many would show at 3. Thankfully I was wrong! There was actually a que at one point!
I had the honor of going around with CEO Anna Brennand and Chariman of the Board of Trustees Barrie Williams. I knew that all the prototypes were awesome, but what would they think? After all, I pitched this idea to them with a lot of ‘well we don’t actually *know * what will happen’. In other words, it was a bit of blind faith.
First prototype they visited was Team 6: The Bold Furnace where they used projected reimagining to bring the furnace to life. This was inclusive of a new educational trail with sound and lights.
The museum LOVED it. There was even a discussion of the type of sand/material that could be used to make it more effective!
Setting the tone, the walk back to our next prototype in Enginuity was incredibly positive. The people got it – they still didn’t know what ‘it’ was exactly but that’s ok, some of our participants didn’t either.
Our lovely tour guide then took us to Team 3: The Pot that Changed the World who amazingly created an animation that pulled your attention to the huge whale pot in the entrance of Museum of Iron. They used an automated sound detector that ran the animation with a brilliant poem read out by Matthew Ward. As someone who has been to this museum multiple times, it was the first time I ever really looked at the pot and found out it was a whale pot!
We then moved up to the 1st floor where we met up with Team 1: Ironbridge’s Next Top Model. Video: here. Magic Hands! Ok, you had to be there – this team was the first team to shout Bingo on Friday and worked effortlessly (I say as someone who didn’t actually sit down and work with them). Their prototype used leap motion technology that projected an animation when your finger went over certain houses on the Coalbrookdale Map. The potential for this expanding got the IGMT staff really excited!
Our next prototype was Team 7: It’s in the Bag. [Video here] This productive team changed their original concept on Saturday mid-morning so didn’t have as much time as everyone else. Did that stop them? Oh no! They created an educational trail (with assistance from the Fab Lab team) that encouraged using different senses. It also was scaled for different ages depending on the family.
Our tour ended with Team 2: Iron Insight, a digital guide to Ironbridge. [Video here.] This team managed to build a working app that not only used GPS but also aggregated data from youtube and other channels. Genius!
Afterwards, we had a quick debrief as we knew some of the people had to leave early. Each team was asked to come down to the front and speak about their journey. Emma from Team 3 later said her highlight of MuseomixUK was coming down to speak for Team 3 and turning around to see her whole team standing proudly next to her.
The teams spoke of their journey, some with more enthusiasm then others. Shane from Team 6 mentioned the Love / Hate relationship both with MuseomixUK and amongst the team … luckily they ended on Love!
Each spoke with pride. Each spoke with confidence. Each still couldn’t believe how far they’ve come and what they achieved in 3 short days.
Every single one were proud to be part of MuseomixUK community – the same one I spoke of on Day one. *Now * they got it.
Over the last couple of days, I’ve been reading tweets amongst Museomixers – most speaking of how hard it was to adjust back to ‘life’ and many spoke of the ‘fog’ they were coming out of. David from the Fab Lab described the experience like being in the Big Brother house – no one really gets it unless they’ve been through it.
And for this first year of MuseomixUK – I think everyone got it!
I’m really not sure how to thank everyone involved with creating MuseomixUK. I’ve said all along this was all about a team effort – each piece as important as the other.
Huge thanks first and foremost to Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust for trusting me when I came to them almost a year ago with this wild idea. Not only did they do their best to work to the ethos of Museomix, they even managed to get wifi installed AND be the first museum on the Global Fab Lab network!
Frederique Santune, Raphael Chanay: Can’t even begin to list all they’ve done – THANK YOU!
John Hughes (IGMT Coordinator): My list maker 😉
Mireia Bes (logistics/Welcome Team): Always with a smile!
Anna Prugnon (Coaches): Kept the coaches happy all weekend!
Helene Hernio (Web Team Leader): Dealt with French to English and back again!
Celine Cadieu (Mixroom): Came over to work on Mixroom, left with friendship!
Will Stanley / Eric Huang / Louie Stockwell (Community Leaders): Brilliant Social Sharers!
Claire Cox / Hannah Griffiths (Web): Worked with each team, even when the teams were stressed!
Dominic Cushan, Mixed Reality. My smiler and part-time counselor.
Sendro … Augemented Reality and Scan it Maker
TCAT: Chris Godbert
Al Dean, Develop3d.com
Phil Smith, IGMT
David Forgham-Bailey (Manchester Fab Lab)
Simon Shaw (Manchester Fab Lab)
Frankie Roberto: Building a Mobile Guide to Ironbridge at MuseomixUK 2013
Kathleen Mcilvenna: Museomix Diary 1: The Prep (links to other days at bottom)
Matt Dawhitt: Write up & Storify
New College Telford Press release
Ralph Mills: Museomix and Me