There is only a week left to see the surreal world of Steampunk at Oxford University's History of Science Museum - an exhibition which has had record visitor numbers.
But as a high proportion of visitors were school pupils, parents and teachers, the exhibition also became the inspiration for a schools' competition entitled Steampunk: The next generation.
The competition was restricted to pupils between the ages of 11 to 14 within the city and surrounding area. Entrants had to design and complete a machine which reflected Steampunk's melding of Victorian technology and modern design.
The response was larger than the organisers anticipated and demonstrated the lively imagination of today's pupils. Using a wide range of materials from leather to ceramic and a variety of found objects they created a range of useful and useless machines, some of them working models.
The panel was composed of Adrian Brooks joint museum education officer, Dr Jim Bennett- director of the Museum of the History of Science, Christopher Parkin- lead education officer from the Museum of the History of Science and Melody Vaughan- Education officer at the Pitt Rivers Museum.
After a difficult decision the judging panel finally decided on a winner and three runners up and the results were announced at an award ceremony on Friday evening.
Joshua Reynolds (yr 9, Magdalen College School) won the first prize of £100 of tokens for the ‘Sat Nav - Albert Albert'. The judging panel said of his design: "Beautifully crafted from brass, polished wood and OS maps in true Steampunk style, it is the indispensable gadget for the Oxfordshire traveller".
The runners up, who each win tokens of £50 are Hovnan Eayrs (yr 7, Leckford Place) for his ‘Time Traveller's Toolbox' which allows the traveller to communicate across time and space by Morse code, Fred Chanter and Tom Holford's (yr 8, Larkmead School) ‘Hadronic Mafipulator', which cunningly incorporates a hand operated electrostatic generator which animates a silver ball, and Isabella Blythe (yr9, Larkmead School) for her ‘Smellomatic 335' which captures delightful smells to trigger memories at will - a must for the dreary days in February.
The panellists were extremely impressed at the standard of the work entered into the competition. Christopher Parkin said: 'We all felt the competition exceeded our expectations both in the quality of the work and the imagination behind the objects.' Adrian Brooks added: 'KS3 school pupils were the ideal age group for this competition, producing ,as they did work that was both funny and wildly imaginative.'
Dr Jim Bennett said: 'The exhibits were a blend of science, art and design, which show an understanding of both the collection of the Museum of the History of Science and the Steampunk aesthetic.'
Prizes were awarded at a private view in the Museum on Friday 12 February. Every entrant received a certificate including a photograph of their work, and work will be on display in the Museum of the History of Science until the 11th April and on the Artefact website (www.museums.ox.ac.uk/artefact).
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