Wonderlab at the Science Museum – 12/11/16

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I realise I’ve taken a while to blog about this but it’s been a busy month. Still, let’s get this wrapped up before it turns all Christmassy around here. Have those snowflakes starting falling across the homepage yet?

So, we went to the Science Museum. That’s hardly revelatory, but we did go to a new bit or at least some of us did. I’ll explain later.

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Firstly though, a walk in the rain through Knightsbridge to take in the Harrods windows. They weren’t as impressive as I was expecting  - they’re all sponsored by Burberry and look kinda samey – but maybe I’ve just got cynical. Eva was ooh-ing and aah-ing at every one. Even once we got past Harrods onto more mediocre shops, she still made me look at everything. “A window vinyl in the shape of a star! A small amount of glitter! It’s all so yuvyee!” I would have been more up for it, but she had to stop still at every one and, as I may have mentioned, it was raining.

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There was a reason we’d alighted at Knightsbridge. Not a great reason but a reason. I always struggle to find places to eat near the Science Museum that are affordable and have a decent amount of seating. There’s a sushi place, but Eva went there on Bunny’s borthday and I’m not sure she ate anything. There’s an Honest Burger, but people are always queuing out of the door.

So McDonalds in Knightsbridge it was then. We were with Ellie and Wylie and it seems to be a bit of a tradition. But it wasn’t to be -it was closed for a refit. So we walked in the rain, past the museums and eventually rocked up in a Burger King just opposite Gloucester Rd tube. There were loads of seats, and one of those drinks dispensers that can give you Diet Coke Cherry Vanilla and other excitements. It may not be haute cuisine, but it’s cheap and warm and a short walk back to South Ken. There’s even a KFC next door too.

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Plus, we found a joke in the toilets that Reuben is still laughing about now.

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“What’s a Toilet Manager?” Comedy Genius!

Let’s speed ahead to the Science Museum itself because I’m here to blog about what, as a friend said, lies behind that green wall. For those not in the know, Wonderlab is a new section of the Science Museum. It’s on the third floor, where Launchpad used to be, and it’s aimed at the science-curious 6+ year old. Luckily I have a 7 year old with a yearning for learning in the realm of “forces”.  I only realised once we were there that Eva was below the recommended age, so I sent her to The Garden while Roo and I went to the Wonderlab. I’ll be honest – if we didn’t have to pay for entry then I wouldn’t have worried about the age restriction. There were plenty of younger kids in there once we were in. But the choice was to pay for one adult and one child or two children and four adults…it starts to add up.

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I know the charging for Wonderlab is a bit controversial – I understand that the museum needs to raise funds somehow but I can also see that people are directly comparing it with Launchpad, which was free. Personally, I think I’d rather have a small entry fee for the whole museum then not pay once we’re in…but that’s just me, and again I understand why they don’t. Still, I saved money by rationalising on kids. Then spent it again as Reuben blagged a milkshake out of me – we were only going to get a bottle of water but  by the time we’d queued, he’d worn me down. I got myself a coffee too. Life was pretty good.

The queue for Wonderlab wasn’t too long either. Just about long enough to drink a milkshake. The guide recommends 90 minutes for the whole experience but I was trying to cram it all into an hour because it was already 3:30ish and getting dark outside. I should have left longer. There was so much we didn’t do and so we really didn’t get the best value. But hey, here’s what we did do.

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First off, forces! Can you guess what Roo is studying in Science this term? In this section there are friction slides that we didn’t go on (the queue was a bit long), chairs that you can pulley yourself up in, and a marble run. We spent a long time on the marble run.

It’s basically just a big wall with magnetic marble run elements that you can stick on in different combinations…but Reuben loved it and spent ages building runs. He also spent a long time on the tessellation wall in the Maths area, that was similar and also very pleasing in an OCD kinda way. Ooh, perfect tessellation.

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Other activities he enjoyed including making a perfect paper dart with the help of an explainer, which you can test out on an air blaster and watching the science show where another explainer produced lightning in a giant Tesla generator.

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There was a beautiful Space section, with a giant Earth on a spinning platform. There were many more sections to look at to but we were seriously running out of time and had to go and find our party. Given that we mainly did marble runs and tessellating (which Nathan just reminded me is also in the Pattern Pod), I’m not convinced we got our money’s worth. I need to go back and give it a lot more time…and possibly take the other child in too. Check out this dynamic spiky liquid stuff though:

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As reviews go, I realise this one is a bit lacking which is why I promise we’ll revisit soon. It is worth a look, even if you have to pay, but make sure you leave at least the recommended 90 minutes because there’s lots to do and it’s easy to get distracted and stuck on one thing. Ooh, tessallaty…

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