Activity ideas for the Lockdown
Online places to visit
The iconic Natural History Museum may have closed its doors, but don’t let that stop you from visiting! You can take a behind the scenes tour and learn more about animals and fossils at their YouTube channel:
Top picks include:
Explore a 360° panorama of Antarctica
Learn how the giant squid was preserved in the deep sea display
Uncover the secrets of the spitting cobra
The Science Museum has over 325,000 objects and archives from its collection available to discover online at:
They have also reproduced items in 3D on the computer – it’s almost as good as being able to touch the exhibit:
Radiotherapy mask Haemoglobin model Catalytic converter
The Pitt Rivers Museum of Anthropology in Oxford offers a unique virtual tour, allowing you browse through their amazing collection of cultural objects from across time and continents.
The Faraday Museum have made a 3D tour of Faraday’s magnetic laboratory that you can explore:
If you’re a budding medic, Old Operating Theatre offers an online archive at:
Oxford University Museum of Natural History has 491786 records online, with collections varying from fossils to geology to zoology.
The Royal Society has hundreds of exhibits you can view online. These will be of particular interest to anyone interested in the history of Science. https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/the-royal-society
It may not be Christmas, but there’s still plenty of joy to be had from past RI Christmas lectures, all available for free at:
Why not learn about num8er my5teries with Marcus Du Sautoy, or meet your brain with Bruce Hood, or our urge to communicate with Sophie Scott.
The History of Science Museum Oxford offers an online collection of their finest pieces at
But rather than just seeing the objects, why not let one of the curators take you through a guided video on how some of the were made and work:
Gregorian telescope Medicine chest Diptych dial
Royal Museums Greenwich offers a different take on its collection. There are eight topics you can pick from to delve deeper into, including time, space and exploration. Experts then guide you through some of the incredible stories told through the exhibits at the museums.
Edinburgh Zoo is one of many zoos that have set up webcams so that you can watch the animals from home. Why not try out the panda cam, or watch the penguins, koalas or even the tigers.
A fun experiment to try at home sourced from the Institute of Physics: https://spark.iop.org/straw-water-gun
The Digital Design Museum is running a calendar of online events. Enjoy collaborations with BBC Studios Hey Duggee, architect Ron Arad, fashion designer Christopher Raeburn and many more. https://designmuseum.org/digital-design-calendar
Once again, the Natural History Museum has lots of how to videos at www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6w4ihPqk5_LcpNpSpAoEVwsCRdUb9y-z
Once again, the Science Museum has lots of activities you can do at home at
For all you designers out there, why not build your own Design Museum exhibition. There’s a template to get you started, but why not create some of your own designs as well.
If you enjoy History and solving puzzles, why not use the following template to build your very own paper enigma machine, as was used at Bletchley Park in World War 2.
The Royal Institution offers a collection of activities that can be done at home – fun for all the family, whatever your age at https://www.rigb.org/families/experimental
Why not try some candle chemistry, or make and race balloon cars as a family, or produce your very own rubber band cannon.
Exhibitions and Lectures
The Science Museum offers lots of short videos taking you through exciting Science discoveries and inventions at: www.youtube.com/user/sciencemuseum
Topics include how purple was discovered, what is antimatter, the first woman in space and using AI to protect wild animals in Africa.
If you want to learn more about plants used in medicine, you couldn’t do better than listen to the Royal College of Physicians podcasts or take a garden tour with one of their experts from the Chelsea Physic Garden:
Whilst the lecture theatre is closed, A Level scientists will find a plethora of past UCL Science Lectures at
For any budding mathematicians, you can watch the London Mathematical Society’s past lecture series online at www.youtube.com/channel/UCvp7jsbXjx2k8sGEkdtWCAw
A fun experiment to try at home sourced from the Institute of Physics: https://spark.iop.org/homemade-sunset
TV, Radio and Blogs
Kew Gardens offers a collection of blog posts and videos ranging from behind the scenes tours to understanding the life of plants and funghi: www.kew.org/read-and-watch
Radio podcasts ZSL Wild Science Podcast – from the Institute in charge of London Zoo, discover fascinating stories from across the animal kingdom at www.zsl.org/zsl-wild-science-podcast. You can also read their blog at www.zsl.org/blogs/science
More or Less – Tim Harford explains, and sometimes debunks, the numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nrss1/episodes/downloads
Science in Action – BBC Science news from the week: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p002vsnb/episodes/downloads
The Life Scientific – Professor Jim Al-Khalili talks to leading scientists about their life and work, finding out what inspires and motivates them, and asking what their discoveries might do for us in the future: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015sqc7/episodes/downloads
Seven Ages of Science – A history of Science in Britain from the Restoration to the present day. Weaving Science back into everyday life, Lisa Jardine shows how the concerns of the scientist are the concerns of us all: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0380wf8/episodes/downloads
A Brief History of Mathematics – Professor of Mathematics, Marcus du Sautoy, reveals the personalities behind the calculations and argues that Mathematics is the driving force behind modern Science: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00srz5b/episodes/downloads
Science Weekly – Award-winning podcast from the Guardian which discusses the big discoveries and debates in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths: www.theguardian.com/science/series/science
Natural Histories – Brett Westwood explores our relationship with nature and its impact on society and culture: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02s8ykn/episodes/downloads
For Years 10-13 Ologies – Comedic podcasts looking at ‘ologies’ ranging from scorpiology (scorpions) to ludology (video games): www.alieward.com/ologies
The Infinite Monkey Cage – comedy and popular Science series hosted by Brian Cox and Robin Ince: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00snr0w/episodes/player
The Genius of Accidents – Adam Hart reveals how some of Science’s greatest discoveries were created by mistake: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bcrcrx
Botanic Garden – Oxford University presents podcasts from those working in the field of botany: https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/units/botanic-garden
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky – a charmingly illustrated and educational book, Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. The Planets by Andrew Cohen and Brian Cox – go on a voyage of discovery, from the fiery heart of our Solar System, to its mysterious outer reaches. They touch on the latest discoveries that have expanded our knowledge of the planets, their moons and how they come to be.
What If? By Randall Munroe – what would happen if the moon went away? If your cells suddenly lost the power to divide, how long would you survive? What would happen if a bullet got struck by lightning? Answers to these and more, by the comic genius who writes webcomic xkcd. The World According to Physics by Jim Al-Khalili – an introduction to the fundamental concepts of quantum theory, relativity and thermodynamics, this book will take you on a journey to exploring why Physics is important to everyone. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson – a very witty and entertaining quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization.
Fermat’s Enigma by Simon Singh – Fermat’s Last Theorem looks simple, but proving it became the Holy Grail of mathematics, baffling its finest minds for more than 350 years. Simon Singh tells the astonishingly entertaining story of the pursuit of that grail, and the lives that were devoted to, sacrificed for, and saved by it.
Origins: How the Earth Shaped Human History by Lewis Dartnell – this book takes us on a journey into our planet’s past to tell the ultimate origin story. Blending science and history, Origins reveals the Earth’s awesome impact on the shape of human civilisations.
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben – are trees social beings? This book draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees live together with their children, communicate, share nutrients and even warn each other of impending dangers.
The Body by Bill Bryson – in this book Bryson explores the human body, how it functions and its remarkable ability to heal itself.
I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong – in this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery.
Two fun experiments to try at home
Sourced from the Institute of Physics: https://spark.iop.org/fork-balancer
Sourced from the Institute of Physics: https://spark.iop.org/convection-snake
Websites, apps and games
NRich Maths website – administered by Cambridge University, this website features a wealth of mathematical puzzles and problems for every age range. An inexhaustible source of recreational Mathematics, with investigations to do, puzzles to solve and articles to read!
Maths is Fun – loads of articles, projects and things to do to inspire your mathematical brain:
Science Channel – some fantastic experiments and a myth busters series to look at the scientific reality behind some myths:
Physics Girl – covers Physics, Astronomy and Science-related topics. The show features fun DIY demos, unusual and cutting-edge research, space, and expert interviews. Best for students in Years 10 to 13:
Veritasium – an excellent set of videos which explains STEM related topics clearly and accurately, including current scientific news stories:
BBC Science and Environment – news page and science homepage:
BBC Technology – news page and homepage:
Science Museum Games and Apps – complete brain-teasing puzzles or learn about science with the Science Museums own games and apps:
Seek by iNaturalist – an app for your phone or iPad. This app uses image recognition technology to identify the plants and animals around you and offers fun facts at the same time: www.inaturalist.org/pages/seek_app
Wildlife Trusts Citizen Survey – take part in a citizen survey to record sightings of nature across the UK:
Zooniverse – citizen Science projects where you get to contribute to cutting-edge research. There are projects spanning all the Sciences:
National Science Foundation Science Zone app – provides easy access to engaging Science and Engineering images and videos.
ISS Spotter – track the ISS and find out when you can see it yourself fly by.
Earth-Now from Jet Propulsion Laboratory – A NASA app which allows you to visualise recent global climate data from Earth Science satellites.
3D Brain – allows you to rotate and zoom around 29 interactive structures of the brain.
Citizen Science Projects
Want to get involved in Science from your own home, why not support live research from the comfort of your sofa. Here are just a few suggestions, but there are many more available online.
RHS Science Projects
Zooniverse offer lots of projects from all disciplines
Here are some more fun ideas you can try at home:
- Did you know you could regrow most vegetables from the parts you throw away? Simply place them in a tray of water and watch the Science happen! Send in your photographs!
2. Learn to touch type. There are a number of free websites to help you with this, but here is one to get you started.
3. Learn Chess
4. Learn to code
5. Learn British Sign Language:
6. Watch Theatre or Performing arts online:
7. Learn a new language
8. Make some music
9. Learn an instrument:
10. Listen to/Read a book:
12. Explore online tours of museums and art galleries from around the world
13. Try Yoga
14. Learn Origami
14. Sign up for an Free Online course: