A child's hands drawing an outline of a bird onto a Kellogs Coco Pops cereal packet, with scissors in the background

Mellers Primary School, Christ Church Gardens and the Light Boxes

We have been working with teacher Lila Bird from Mellers Primary School in Nottingham since 2020. Last year, in the week before lockdown Rachel Jacobs visited the school and worked with her class to design and build model Future Machines out of recycled stuff that the children brought into the class, and felt and wood that Rachel contributed.

This year we have been working with Lila’s new class since they returned from lockdown, as a sort of reverse from last year. First the whole class visited Christ Church Gardens and explored the plants, shrubs and trees in the gardens. Frank, Iain and Rachel worked together to find all the plants and shrubs that Frank had photographed in the summer. Frank created a treasure trail of the photos of the plants in summer, hanging on the actual plants in all the wintery bareness. It sounds like they had even more fun than we did discovering the plants!

They also discovered the history of the gardens – memorial gardens that were once part of a Church that was demolished in the 1950s. The children were fascinated by the graves left against the walls surrounding the gardens. They also thought about the future and started to imagine what they would do to change the gardens and make them better.

Back in the class they made 30 light boxes to give to us to hang in the tree when the tree blossoms. Sadly they wont be able to come to the tree this year when the Future Machine appears to witness the blossom as due to the Covid-19 pandemic we are still limited to meetings of 6 people. Instead their light boxes will represent the children of the class. Each lightbox has a bird shape cut out and is powered by hand generated power. The class were given sets of wind up lights and fruit and vegetable powered lights to experiment with, to begin to learn about sustainable forms of electricity.

As the sun goes down on the fully blossomed tree 6 people will turn the handles and generate the lights in each of the boxes to light up the tree. Rachel will turn the handle of the Future Machine and play the sounds of the machine that represent the weather, which if it continues to be as extreme as it is predicted may sound like freezing snow or a heatwave! Frank will record the moment the tree lights up and it will be broadcast live here.

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