The search for knowledge is central to British life. Watch the video to learn about Oxford University, the Science Museum and the Wellcome Collection and how they are all involved in Britain’s quest for knowledge. 

Think about the following question:

  • What’s the best way for you to find knowledge?
  • Perhaps you go to college or university, visit museums, read books or search the internet.

Now watch the video and complete the activities.

Tasks

Task 1 - gap fill

Watch the video from the start until 03:08 minutes.

Use a word or number to complete the sentences from the video. 

Task 2 - categorising

Watch the video from 03:08 minutes to the end.

Task 3 - comprehension

Transcript

The search for knowledge is central to British life. In fact, four of the world’s top ten universities can be found here. Every year, huge amounts are invested in science and research in this country… so why is knowledge so important to Great Britain?

Oxford has been a place of learning for hundreds of years and more world leaders have been educated here than any other university. This is the Old Schools Quad, which is part of the famous Bodleian Library, at the heart of this historic establishment.

A quad or quadrangle is a courtyard with buildings on all sides. Oxford University is made up of thirty-eight different colleges. There are twenty thousand students studying here, from nearly a hundred and fifty countries.

Dr Sally Mapstone is Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Education.

Richard: Sally. Tell me about Oxford University.

Sally: Oxford University is one of the world's leading universities. It's highly international, it's very modern and it has a great sense of history.

Richard: And how old is it?

Sally: The university has been here for nine hundred years. Many of the colleges are almost as old as that too, though some of them were established in the twentieth century.

Richard: You've had a lot of famous names here over the years.

Sally: Yes, we've had a lot of famous people at Oxford, from prime ministers, such as Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson, David Cameron, US presidents, such as Bill Clinton, writers, such as Oscar Wilde, and even film stars, such as Hugh Grant.

Richard: So why is it, do you think, that the search for knowledge and education is so important to Great Britain?

Sally: Great Britain and universities like Oxford have always had a rich interest in critical enquiry. By that I mean the search for knowledge, the investigation of truth, the asking of questions. Whether it's to do with drama, to do with development, or even to do with disease, we're always asking the big questions to try and change things for the better.

There are universities all across the UK but they're not the only places where you can gain knowledge.

This is the Science Museum in London. It has millions of visitors every year and that's because there are some pretty special things here. Let’s go and explore.

The Science Museum is home to over 230,000 objects, although only a fraction can be on display at any one time.

Now that’s what I call an engine.

The museum is dedicated to learning and knowledge. For over a hundred years, it's been engaging  people with science. The exhibitions here range from technology to space… The only issue is where to start; this place is huge…

Roger Highfield is a spokesperson for the Science Museum.

Richard: Roger, tell me about the Science Museum.

Roger: Well, this is the science museum. In fact, if you're going anywhere in the UK and you want to find out about science or technology, this is the place to come. Overall, we've got the biggest selection of iconic scientific and technological objects on the planet. We get something like 3 million visitors every year, just enjoying the kind of amazing insights we give them into, you know, the objects and the ideas that are still changing our world. 

Richard: And this exhibition is incredible. Tell me more.

Roger: This is Making the Modern World and, if you like, this is the greatest hits of science and technology. We've got a V2 rocket over there, we've got Watson and Crick's model of DNA, we've got the engine that powered the spitfire, Model T Fords, Stephenson's Rocket, you know these are – if you want to go to one place on the planet and figure out what made the modern world, this is where you've got to come.

Richard: What makes Britain so great in the search for knowledge?

Roger: Well, we've got some of the great scientific pioneers, an amazing history. Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Paul Dirac, who gave the world antimatter, and we've also got amazing scientists still at work today. We've got the world's best-known scientist, Stephen Hawking, and just a few hundred yards away from where we are, we've got Sir John Pendry, who gave the world invisibility cloaks. Now, how cool is that?

Richard: And he's stood here right now, listening to us. Shall we keep looking?

Well, that was fun! What a great way to learn about science!

This is the Wellcome Collection in London. All the items here are to do with medicine, health and the search to discover more. It’s the place to go for those who are hungry for knowledge.

This is the medicine man gallery. Some of it is really horrible.

Many of these medical objects were collected by Sir Henry Wellcome, a Victorian collector and businessman.

That’s Napoleon’s toothbrush.

Sir Mark Walport is the chief executive of the Wellcome Trust.

Richard: Sir Mark… Tell us about the Collection.

Mark: Henry Wellcome was an avid collector of objects that linked together human health and well-being and history and then the Wellcome Trust brought his collection up to date in the Medicine Now gallery, which looks at medicine, art and science in a contemporary setting.

Richard: And there's plenty of art here as well.

Mark: Absolutely. Well, here's an example. This is quite an amusing piece of art. This is a take on a skeleton where the pelvis has been swapped with the skull, and it looks slightly like a character from Star Wars.

Richard: He wants to see a doctor about that, doesn't he?

Mark: Absolutely.

Richard: So why do you think the search for knowledge is so important in Great Britain?

Mark: Knowledge is the foundation for human development, for economic development. If you look around the world, if you look around, you see the impact of science everywhere you look and the Wellcome Trust is about funding medical research and of course that advances human health throughout the world, so there's nothing really more important than knowledge.

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In the video, Richard visits Oxford University, the Science Museum and the Wellcome Collection. For more information about these attractions, or to plan a visit, the following links may be useful:

http://www.ox.ac.uk/visitors_friends/visiting_the_university/

http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/

http://www.wellcomecollection.org/