Taking a brief pause from the deficit model of learning, I would like to use today’s post to spread the word about an exhibition I went to see with my 7- year old brother.
The Centre for Life (link in “links” section) is a large, open plan gallery, filled to the brim with vibrantly coloured “stations”, marking out the different sections, each with their own focus. Interactive activities are mixed with posters describing the background theory for each element, creating an atmosphere where the visitor is let loose to “discover” scientific ideas instead of being told how everything works. For those more pro-active, there are plenty of LCD screen based challenges, e.g building and maintaining a landfill site, becoming a weather forecast presenter; for the younger visitors, there are also games and construction activities mainly centering on examples of natural selection. Given its name, the museum weighs in heavy on the expected biological and social science exhibitions, but they range from survival-of-the-fittest all the way to basic stem cell research, so there is something for everybody to muse about.
Included in the price (£ 5-8 per person, depending on age and other circumstances, family tickets also available) are entries to the different shows and/or rides offered (may vary). I caught three on the day; the motion ride, a just-for-fun screened adventure with mobile chairs, will definitely have the younger audience in a giggle; “We are Astronomers” in the planetarium, sitting in plush chairs gazing up at a hemi-spherical screen – large enough to be awe-inspiring, small enough to avoid being overwhelming to younger guests. Finally, Dino Engineering, a theatre show aimed at children, was informative enough to engage the attention of the youngsters for the duration of the show whilst forgoing the patronising nature such shows may have.
As an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and my brother seemed to have had a good time too, only glitched by a couple of “scary, life-size, moving, growling dinosaurs with big teeth”, then again, opinions on those things are subjective, are they not?
So, if you are around the North East of England, and have some spare time, I would definitely recommend you pay the Centre for Life a visit. Now, if this blog was in better circulation, maybe I could have charged them for this. Well well, that day will come.
Either way, I hope You come back again, as I have planned some (yes they are) FUN DIY experiments regarding last week’s topic of choice – GRAVITY.