‘Our Brains and Us’ a collaborative event between The Hub at The Wellcome Collection and the Institute of Imagination
July 2018

From 19 to 20 and 25 to 27 July 2018, the Institute of Imagination (iOi) partnered with Wellcome Trust to transform The Hub at Wellcome Collection, the fifth-floor interdisciplinary research space, into a creative space for investigative play and exploration. The iOi Experience and Learning team, in partnership with The Hub team, designed a programme of collaborative workshops that approached neurodiversity in original, exciting and thought-provoking ways. The workshops showcased both the iOi’s and Wellcome’s interdisciplinary approach to art & design, science and digital technology, with each activity intended to be experienced by everyone, welcoming individuals of all ages and abilities.

During the first week of ‘Our Brains and Us’ we welcomed school groups to the space; 240 children and 30 teachers joined us across the two days. The second week of the project focused on family groups; 300 children and 150 adults were engaged with ‘Our Brains and Us’ during the three family days. We were delighted that 540 children and young people joined us across the five days at The Hub, a space, which for the first time, was opened up to these age groups. In total 720 visitors joined the Institute of Imagination and Wellcome Trust to explore and celebrate the unique nature and diversity of the brain.

Aimed at children from Key Stages 1,2,3 (aged 5 to 14 years old), visitors explored the topic of ‘Our Brains and Us’ through:

 Sound: Participants explored electronic sounds created by computer programmes and composed music or soundscapes using Scratch and MakeCode programs on laptops.

Immersive Spaces: Participants used art, design and engineering to create spaces around inclusivity and belonging. Using over 400 milk jugs, participants worked collaboratively to build an igloo fitted with lights, colours, and textures. These activities were ideal for sensory and tactile learners.

Illusion: Making spinning tops, 3D hands and floating 3D cubes allowed visitors to question if we always see reality. Magician and illusionist, Josh Stadlen, performed close-up magic, giving children and adults one-on-one experiences of wonder and illusion. He led workshops to teach children and adults how to perform magic and distort reality through tricks of the eye.

Virtual Reality: Participants practiced coding and creating virtual environments using the CoSpaces app to bring stories to life. Children and adults studied how the brain interprets 2D information to create 3D experiences, and how to use this knowledge to imagine virtual worlds based on personal ideas, memories and dreams.

Dreams and daydreams: The London Brain Project explored how brains create nonsensical night time adventures and future-focused daydreams by creating zoetropes (a pre-film animation device that produces the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of drawings showing progressive phases of that motion) and spinning tops.  

Senses: For the final ‘blended day’, interactions were opened up to the upper age range up to 25, who identify as having a cognitive disability. Participants drew, explored and imagined their very own touch map through a series of games, explorations and creative questionings.

Our Brains and Our Futures: BBC’s CAPE crusaders explored ‘everyday’ challenges in new and unexpected ways. They encouraged visitors to discover their very own superpower during the creative problem-solving extravaganza.

92% of parents/carers and teachers felt that their children or students were encouraged to use their imagination more than they usually would.

21% of visitors interviewed declared they had Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). ‘Our Brains and Us’ welcomed all abilities and ages, using our neurodiversity to inspire ideas and support learning from one another

  • “It’s been incredible. It’s a wonderful space up here, really calming. The facilitators and their activities make it so easy for the children, and adults, to get involved and focus on the activity at hand.” Emilie, parent

  • “Inspiring, interesting and fun. The activities today have given me lots of ideas of how I can mix subjects in the classroom. It’s been a great day and I can see that the students have not only had fun, but have used their imagination and learnt new things too.” Stuart, teacher

  • “A great opportunity for my grand-sons to use their imaginations, and brains, outside of the school and home. I’d not been to the Wellcome Collection before, but it’s an amazing space that really nurtured their creativity.” Carole, grand-mother