With science and technology advancing faster than most of us can sprint, it’s pretty clear that today’s kids – tomorrow’s leaders and teachers – need every possible encouragement not just to stay abreast of developments but to think about benefits and consequences. There was a time when a school excursion to a ‘science museum’ was a bore to most kids, but in that respect times have changed considerably.
Now there is a wealth of opportunities for kids, marvelous in the very best sense of the word. Kids in general are curious, inventive, spontaneous and fearless – qualities that tend to atrophy as we get older. Capturing their interest at an early age is the goal of many new science museums across the UK, but there are few adults who couldn’t learn a thing or three from any of them.
For example, at the Life Science Village in Newcastle-upon-Tyne current scientific research goes hand in hand with science fun. The largest planetarium in northern England is complemented by interactive exhibitions and a science theatre where real astronauts, doctors and scientists answer questions and explain some of the mysteries – leaving plenty for future discovery by inquiring minds, of course.
An old steelworks in the Sheffield area has been ingenuously converted into the Magna Science Adventure Centre, divided into sections for Earth, Water, Wind and Fire. Games and activities are incorporated into the four main areas; the Air section is a zeppelin 15 metres above the floor and the Fire pavilion has five-metre ‘fire tornado’, just for starters. There’s also a play area with gravity-defying equipment and a huge water park; great fun for kids and pretty amazing for parents too.
Other excellent options are the Spaceport at Wirral (take the Ferry Cross the Mersey from Liverpool), and the National Space Centre at Leicester. London’s Science Museum in South Kensington is one of the most popular free attractions in the UK. Note: everything is free except the flight simulators and the IMAX cinema, and since you’re probably going with the kids, be warned – and have fun.