purpleSTARS at the Newham Citizen Science Fair

purpleSTARS were asked to share our inclusive research methods and sensory objects at the Newham Citizen Science Fair. Co-researchers Ajay Choksi, Samantha Walker, and Kate Allen exhibited some of the sensory museum labels we co-produced, inspired by objects in the British Museum’s Enlightenment Gallery.

People enjoyed experiencing our research, it was very enjoyable sharing ideas with young people!

Ajay Choksi, co-researcher

two women looking at sensory objects
Samantha talks to a visitor about creating her sensory label for the Enlightenment Gallery

Our first design experiments creating a multi-sensory museum label used sound recordable cards. Each co-researcher chose an object from the museum collection and drew images, found sounds, textures etc to create a sensory experience of the item. From these beginnings we developed the sensory label creating laser cut wooden boxes with engraved drawings, smell chambers and micro controllers to trigger soundscapes.

At the Fair we offered visitors the opportunity to create a sensory museum label about something important to them, that they wanted to share with people in the future. Visitors were given a recordable card on which they could develop their ideas for a sensory label through drawing, text, and adding texture.

museum visitors doing activities
Visitors at Newham Science Fair creating sensory museum labels and playing smell bingo

Visitors also helped our research to create an easy-use, self-assembly DIY version of our sensory label by having a go at assembling a prototype of the DIY kit.

I enjoyed today helping the children at the science fair making the cards. It was fun.

Samantha Walker, co-researcher

museum visitors exploring sensory objects
Visitors testing ease of construction of easy use sensory labels

Science Fair attendees also engaged with some of our other action research methods, exploring the sense of smell through a game of smell bingo and telling a sensory story to be recorded for our Suitcase Stories.

suitcase stories
Rainbow label, purpleSTARS Suitcase Stories, Suitcase Story passport stamp

We also displayed our smell research poster with a QR code for a 360 online exhibition, London is the Place for Me, developed from listening to oral histories of past Londoners, co-produced for the Museum of London. We are researching the potential of offering accompanying scents/smells for virtual exhibitions and museum displays, which led us to ask the question, “How does equality smell?”

museum visitors making labels
Ajay helping visitors create sensory museum labels, and in the background our Smell Research poster

We met Des Blake, a Newham resident and member of The Hackney and Newham History Social Club.

Hackney and Newham History Social Club

Des recorded his thoughts on one of our sound recorders and gave us some great feedback.

“This table is really good news for me, because you don’t normally see this sort of sensory event going on at a science event.”

fisheye view of workshop
360 captured image of purpleSTARS table at the Newham Science Fair

Hear from Des in this video and see some other visitors at work, creating sensory museum labels on the day.

group of children and adults with raised arms
A large group of us with the Mayor of Newham at the end of the day

It was a great day, we showed all our sensory and micro controller technology research, creating sensory museum labels and much more

Ajay Choksi

Written by Ajay Choksi
Pictures Ajay Choksi and Kate Allen
Edited by Kate Allen

Newham Citizen Science Fair