22 Oct 2018

Pangolins: The World's Most Illegally Traded Mammal

Head into the Wildlife Gallery at Thinktank and you will find some wonderful examples of animal life. There is a leopard, a peacock and even a Triceratops skull! You will also find on display a very special animal called a Pangolin.

Pangolins (or scaly anteaters) are mammals which live in Africa and Asia. They have scales on their skin making them look a little like a pine cone or a globe artichoke. They are the only mammals which have this adaptation. Pangolin scales are made of keratin, just like our finger nails, and are attached to muscles under the skin. If threatened, the pangolin rolls into a tight ball. This presents its armoured scales to any potential predator, and also protects the soft parts of its body. Read More...

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10 May 2017

Sinclair C5 at Thinktank

The 1980s produced some wonderful inventions such as the walk man, the first Mobile Phone and the Space Shuttle, but it also produced some that seemed destined for failure. One such unfortunate invention was Sir Clive Sinclair’s C5. Not only does it rank as one of the most spectacular transport failures of the 1980s, but it also has the dubious distinction of being named the worst gadget of all time, but was it really as bad as we all seem to think?

Sir Clive Sinclair was known for being at the forefront of British innovation for many years by the time he tried his hand at vehicles. He had invented pocket radios, pocket TVs, electronic watches and was one of the visionaries who made personal computing a reality. Launched in 1980, his ZX-80 PC helped usher in the PC age. At a price of just £100 the ZX-80 was a hit and the machine put Sinclair at the heart of the United Kingdom’s PC revolution. Ongoing development resulted in the ZX-Spectrum that sold 5 million units following its launch in 1982. Read More...

17 Sep 2015

The Overlooked Fighter

75 years ago the Battle of Britain was at its fiercest. German bombers had struck at cities and aerodromes across the British Isles and the Royal Air Force was fighting back against huge odds. On 15th September 1940 bomber attacks could start again after a few days of cloudy weather. Their crews had been told the RAF was a spent force and could provide no opposition. To their horror the bombers were met by hundreds of Spitfires and Hurricanes. Losses were high and the Battle was effectively decided; there would be no invasion of Britain in 1940. The Sunday nearest to 15th September is still celebrated by the RAF as Battle of Britain Day.

Most people associate the Spitfire with the events of 1940. The most numerous modern fighter plane in the RAF’s armoury was actually the Hurricane which looked similar but belonged to an earlier age of aeroplane design. Hurricanes were not as fast Spitfires but were still effective combat machines. They were easier to build and repair and more forgiving for inexperienced pilots to fly. Read More...

25 Aug 2015

Fish School

Thinktank on a week day morning in term time is an exciting, hectic, nerve jangling place to be. Hundreds of schoolchildren pressing buttons, pulling levers, laughing, talking and . . . . . HAVING FUN!! The children are doing what they are supposed to be doing and producing a phenomenal amount of noise in the process.

So sometimes when I need a bit of peace and quiet I introduce my school groups to a different kind of school. And here it is. A piece of rock split in two to reveal – a Fish School! Read More...

14 May 2015

Take part in research at Thinktank over half term

Here at Thinktank we are committed to contributing to and supporting research lead by our local Universities. We do this in a number of ways, by welcoming researchers on to our galleries to run Meet the Expert events, creating opportunities for writing about science and, most importantly, carrying out research in the museum.

One group that we have welcomed back year after year is the Cognitive Development Research Group from the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham. The team use the museum as a base to carry out their research on young children, an age group we usually have a lot of! Read More...

26 Mar 2015

Hidden Stories: Takes to the Skies

In our third and final instalment it is time to show you Hidden Stories on display! If you’ve been following the blog you’ll know that Thinktank's Young People's Forum, Ignite, have been working on, an art instillation called Hidden Stories, linking together some of the connections between the Spitfire aeroplane and other historic items on display at Thinktank. (Read the previous blog posts about the Hidden Stories project and Creating Spitfires).

This week has been installation week in preparation for the launch of the new Spitfire Gallery and the artwork this weekend. It has been all hands to the deck to construct the giant sculpture of wooden ‘paper’ planes, designed by artist Matt Reeves, as you can see here. Read More...