Imagine; you’re a primary school child, living in Fishermead. One night you are woken up by a loud bang. You think nothing to it, turn over and go back to sleep. But in the morning, your school is cordoned off, with police officers and a professor from the Science Museum on site. A spaceship has landed in the playground! And when its door begins to open, nobody knows quite what to expect…
In 1988 the children at Newlyn Place First School in Fishermead didn’t have to imagine, because it happened in their playground. The alien who emerged from the spaceship was named Zerena – she was friendly but lost and far from home.
The children adopted the visitor as one of their own, teaching her to speak, showing her what was safe to eat, how to cross the road, how to go shopping and how to live in our world. They made a replica of her house to help her feel at home, helped her communicate with her parents back on her home planet to tell them she was safe, and worked with a Professor from the Science Museum to help get her back home. For 6 weeks they put all their maths, English, science, art and design skills to work to educate and care for their visitor until they finally found a way to return her to her home planet.
This new film Educating Zerena: An Alien Encounter from Living Archive MK – premiering at MK Gallery on 8 October – tells the extraordinary story of The Zerena Project. The film and an associated exhibition in MK Gallery’s Project Space celebrates the children’s and teachers’ creativity, leaving an inspiring legacy for parents and educators today to look for equally exciting ways for their children’s learning to be brought alive.
This chapter from Milton Keynes’ untold history tells a tale of hospitality and kindness as the Fishermead children, teachers and wider community took Zerena to their hearts and made her welcome.
Educating Zerena Exhibition 8 October – 30 October 2022
The Project Space, MK Gallery. More details: https://www.livingarchive.org.uk/events/event/education-zerena-an-alien-encounter-exhibition
Creativity & Curriculum with Michael Rosen – An evening for teachers, parents & academics
MK Gallery. Exhibition Tours | Educating Zerena: An Alien Encounter (2022) Documentary | Talk | Networking & Supper
19 October from 4pm – 9pm
Public Screening: Educating Zerena: An Alien Encounter (2022)
29 October 5pm
Sky Room, MK Gallery. More details: https://www.livingarchive.org.uk/events/event/educating-zerena-an-alien-encounter-public-screening
Supported with funding from MK Council & MK Community Foundation
A Living Archive MK project in association with MK Gallery, Inter-Action MK and MAKE