Newton’s apple seeds: celebrating international science centre day at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre

Sir Isaac Newton was famously sitting under an apple tree, when a falling apple inspired his revolutionary theories about gravity. 

Newton's Apple Tree (credit: Ann Moynihan)
Newton's apple tree. (Photo credit: Ann Moynihan)

Today, seeds from that very same apple tree have been collected and are being sent to specially selected Science Centres and Science Museums all across the UK including Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre in Cheshire, the home of the world-famous, Grade 1 listed Lovell Telescope.

Science centres and museums like at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, which is one of The University of Manchester’s Cultural Institutions, will now be able to grow their very own Newton's Apple Tree, sharing the science and stories with school children and the public. This unique and rare event is in celebration of the World's first UNESCO-backed International Science Centre and Science Museum Day this Thursday, 10th November.

Julia Riley, Head of Education at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre explained: “This is a simply wonderful project and we’re delighted to be part of it. It connects perfectly with our mission to inspire the scientists of the future and it builds on our work here in the Centre’s gardens and community orchards, as well as on our major Heritage Lottery funded project First Light at Jodrell Bank. Planting seeds from Newton’s apple tree is especially significant for us as apples are another thread in the unique heritage of the Jodrell Bank site, now connecting Sir Isaac Newton to Sir Bernard Lovell, the founder of Jodrell Bank Observatory, who first initiated the planting of the site’s extensive arboretum.”

The project has been made possible through a partnership with the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC), the national charity that brings together the UK’s major science engagement organisations and The National Trust’s Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, the birthplace and family home of Sir Isaac Newton.

Julia, who is leading the activity plan for Jodrell Bank’s Heritage Lottery Funded project First Light at Jodrell Bank, continues: “Being a part of this initiative is also a great way for us to build on our links with the National Trust and our unique partnerships with ASDC and other Science Centres and Museums. We are taking great care of the seeds and are looking forward to planting them out in our arboretum where they will engage even more young people with our fascinating story.”

Together UK Science centres and museums involve 20 million children and adults every year with science through their hands-on science programmes, schools science programmes and community activities. The International Science Centres and Science Museum Day, backed by UNESCO, recognises at the highest levels the huge contribution that science centres and museums make every day, on every continent, in inspiring young people and families with science.

The CEO of the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres, Dr Penny Fidler said: "We are delighted to be able to celebrate the day by sharing Newtons's apples seeds with families and the public through the impressive network of UK science centres. As a nation and a global society we have some major challenges ahead that will take scientific creativity and entrepreneurship to solve. Science Centres and Museums are at the heart of bringing the latest science to the public across the UK and helping children and adults to get involved with science in a hands-on and inspirational way, building the skills we need to create a better world for the future."

The apple pips have been donated by National Trust’s Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, the birthplace and family home of Sir Isaac Newton. Newton’s tree still flourishes in the orchard there and continues to inspire visitors from all across the world.

Jannette Warrener, Operations Manager for Woolsthorpe Manor said: “I’m delighted to share apple pips with other amazing sites for science across the country and hope that the project will engage young people with the fascinating story of Newton. He truly shaped modern scientific thinking here at Woolsthorpe when he worked on his theory of gravity and also explored light and calculus.”


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