Last week the Grandparents were in town visiting The Terrorists. They were keen to take them for a fun day out but our outdoor plans were scuppered due to the weather so we ended up making a bee line for The Science Museum.
The place is huge and to do it justice you would need a couple of days, there are however a handful of toddler ‘must dos’ which if you remain focused can exhaust even the most energetic little people in a matter of hours!
Our first port of call is ‘The Garden’ which is located in the basement. It has been designed specifically for little ones to experiment and is the Bear’s favourite bit. It gets very busy by 11.00 (as the school parties and older kids arrive) so is well worth making a bee line for first. The highlight is a huge water section where you can damn water, pump air, and float little boats. Aprons are provided but experience has taught me to take a full change of clothes for them both as they are always drenched by the end!
Also in this section are some great noise experiments as well as a climbing area where little bean bags can be ferried around using buckets and pullies. You are not allowed to bring your pushchairs in (there is a separate room to house them) so it is well worth having a little bag with you so you can keep your valuable on you.
After a very wet hour we do a quick change of clothes and grab a quick coffee (there is a café next to The Garden) which is really very good and reasonable. We then head back upstairs (making sure to call in the ‘Home’ section where there are endless switches and telephones for the kids to play with). The Terrorists are used to being stopped from touching these at home so this truly is a dream come true in their little world!
Back on the ground floor we go through the space section (fascinating as an adult and child alike!) to see the big revolving world and the rockets and head to the next toddler area at the back called ‘The Pattern Pod’. This is all about making patterns using lights, jigsaws and their own bodies. Bollie is obsessed with the pond full of fish which is projected on the floor and The Bear spends a happy 30 minutes running round slotting things together. It is a great contained area so you can sit down and watch them run in safety for a while.
The final ‘must see’ is The Launch Pad on the 3rd floor. This is really meant for older kids and the science and activities are much more complex. That said The Terrorists still love it and are happily entertained by a wall of bubbles behind glass, a heat sensing camera and tunnels where you can project balls using the force of air. This area is my favourite and I just can’t wait until they are a bit older and can enjoy the rocket shooting across the room (it goes too quick for them to see it at the moment!), the centrifugal force experiment and the tonnes of other cool things to do and try.
Also at the top of the museum is a great big hanger full of aeroplanes. The Bear was thrilled as he could touch them and whilst the exhibits were all super geeky (there were lots of older boys and young men who seemed fascinated!) we loved just having a run around and getting close to something we usually only point out in the sky!
All up we had been there 4 hours. Bollie (who has just mastered walking) has walked everywhere and is exhausted and so after a quick Yumbox (www.yumbox-uk.co.uk) lunch in the picnic area we head home where they both sleep for 3 hours and the Grandparents and I pretty much do the same!
Top Tip – make sure you visit The Garden, The Pattern Pod and The Launch Pad. They all get very busy as the day goes on but are quite quiet 10 – 11 and at lunchtime when the schools stop to eat
Time to visit – I would say a day or more if you really want to take in the many exhibits
Highlights – The Garden, The Pattern Pod, The Launch Pad, theaeroplanes and the space section are our highlights but there is also an IMAX cinema and flight simulators which look like a lot of fun
Getting there – South Ken station has an exit right next to the museum, there are stairs involved but they are manageable. The other option is the Imperial College car park (just behind the Science Museum off Exhibition Road) which is open on bank holidays and weekends. It isn’t cheap (£11 for 4 hours, £16.00 for 6 hours and £21 if you are there for 9 hours) but it is very convenient.
Pushchair access – everywhere is accessible with pushchairs but due to a funny layout different lifts access different floors so it can be a bit tricky to figure out how to get from one section to another. Worth getting a map when you go in.
Price – the museum itself is free though they do ask for a £5 donation – this is voluntary though
Food and Drink –the café isn’t flashy but it sells good food and is pretty reasonably priced. Otherwise there are some great restaurants at South Kensington
Other attractions nearby – You are next to the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert
Baby facilities – there is plentiful baby change and lots of quiet corners where you can feed in peace. The café also has lots of high chairs
Website – http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/