We were inspired by our Principia Mission Diary project to go and see Tim Peake’s descent capsule while it is on display at the Science Museum in London. In the end we just glimpsed it briefly at closing time because we had been too carried away in the new Wonderlab gallery. This gallery is a revamped version of the old upstairs activity zone and is unfortunately not free any more, but at £20.20 for a family of four (correct for March 2017, future prices may vary) it represented good value for what was on offer. Tickets are available from just outside the gallery and if you are planning on visiting twice or more in a year the year pass is slightly cheaper than two separate sets of tickets.
The hands on exhibits generated immediate excitement and I was glad there were two of us to chase after the kids as they disappeared in different directions in a flurry of activity. The friction slides were a particular hit as the boys tried out sliding down different surfaces. They also enjoyed the ‘Pulley up’ with a chair that the kids sat in, hoisted themselves up using a rope through a pulley, then were lowered down gently by a fan descender.
The gallery is split into zones covering Light, Forces, Electricity, Maths, Sound, Space and Matter, plus a Chemistry Bar and Showspace for live demonstrations. We thoroughly enjoyed the Rockets show, with a charismatic presenter and plenty of exciting demonstrations and opportunities for audience volunteers to join in. It fit in nicely with our Space theme at home, but it’s worth taking ear defenders if you have a child who is sensitive to loud noises.
I hope that at some point that funding is made available to the museum so they can return this to a free gallery, but in the meantime it is a great resource for science play, and visiting is a good way to support the work of this excellent museum.
Notes: Videos below are shown with the kind permission of the presenter on the day, you might want to turn the speakers down on your device before playing as the bangs are quite loud. Facilities and accessibility are both very good, as you would expect from such a popular museum. There are cafe’s, toilets and a range of exhibitions to suit all ages.