When you have two kids as mad about new stuff as ours, finding places to take them (especially during the summer holidays) can be a real challenge. So when we were invited to visit the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium to look at their new Explorer:Space Zone, Miss Deer jumped at the chance to take Daddy Deer and the Baby Deers out for a day.
Just off the M3, the science centre is easy to find and there is plenty of parking just a short walk from the entrance. Be aware that parking costs a couple of quid, but with the wonders of modern technology it doesn’t matter if you forget the change as you can pay by phone.
The science centre itself is packed with… well… science. The great thing is that pretty much everything you can see is an interactive exhibit. From a full-sized periscope to dinosaur bones, the broad sweep of science is here for all to play with. Even if your small people are not in to science, there will be plenty of things to keep them entertained.
The new Explorer:Space Zone is a whole themed area that gives kids the chance to learn about how space exploration actually works. Programming Mars-exploring robots? Tick! Creating hydrogen and oxygen from water? Yep! Wearing a full-sized spacesuit? Well, not quite, but you can take a picture!
In fact, the Explorer:Space Zone tells a great story. With a fun video, the exhibit explains the reasons for exploring our solar system, then covers some basic physics and finally shows off some of the latest innovations in space exploration. The whole exhibition is hands on from start to finish. Daddy Deer’s highlight was the rocket power by compressed air, but he’s sure the Baby Deers loved it too!
The highlight of the visit is the planetarium. Planetarium shows do cost a little extra, but our experience is that they are worth the outlay. We attended The Planet Show, which uses the planetarium to explore our solar system, visiting each planet in turn. It certainly hit the spot with the Baby Deers, and the honest-to-goodness scientist who gave the presentation was fun and helpful, answering all of our questions after the show.
Looking at the venue as a day out, there’s a huge amount going for it. There is a café on site, with a nice menu at reasonable prices. The sheer amount of hands-on activities will keep your small people engaged and entertained for hours. From a science geek point-of-view, Daddy Deer would have liked the rest of the general exhibits to tell a slightly more coherent story in the way that the Explorer:Space Zone does, but it certainly didn’t spoil the Baby Deers’ enjoyment.
All in all, the Science Centre is great destination for a family trip. Just make sure you visit the planetarium – you’ll thank us.
The Science Centre is open all year round but the Explorer:Space exhibition is only on until 3rd September so don’t miss it!