Life Science Centre, Newcastle

With New Years Eve 2016 falling on a Saturday and my sense of adventure feeling stronger, we decided to go for a city trip to Newcastle by train. Here we went to the Life Science Centre and the Discovery Museum (which you can read about here).

Getting to Newcastle from Leeds is much easier by train and took about 90 minutes. Then we took the 5 minute walk from the station to the museum and thanks to excellent signposting, finding it was a piece of cake.

Whilst the Christmas ice rink outside was somewhat appealing (see here for our eventual ice skating adventure!) we headed in to see what we could find.

In the main area of the “museum” (I call it that loosely as it was more a “hands-on learning experience”) there were loads of little experiments and areas to learn. One of the favourites was the thermal imaging camera showing the heat contrast between humans and a block of ice. On this, we experimented by rubbing our noses onto the ice.

Our other favourite was the spinning wheels where the children discovered centrifugal forces (almost!) The exhibits weren’t manned so parents were empowered to do the teaching, which is no bad thing!

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Learning about centrifugal forces!

Upstairs was a decently sized free play area for the younger children (I would suggest aged 8 and below). Here there is a free soft play blocks/mats but also a small mock shop and kitchen. This provided a good breakout area after quite intense learning downstairs.

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Play area!

The special attraction at the time was showing the insides of animals, in terms of their bone and muscle structure. This was perhaps not the most suitable for a 3 year old as the models were VERY realistic. However. her enthusiasm for biology took over and seemed to learn a bit.

Our favourite part was the show in the planetarium. There was loads of shows going on throughout the day and some are more age specific than others. Due to the dark nature of the auditorium, there is likely to be tears from some of the younger ones. However, I think that it is just one of those things!

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Planetarium show!

Our one slightly disappointing part was that we weren’t allowed into the science lab to do some experiments. Children had to be aged 7 and over to go in. Whilst I fully understand the safety concerns, the experiments that they were doing were ones that we do in our kitchen!!

Overall, we stayed at the Life Science Centre for 5 hours or so and so it is good value for money. Making use of the lockers (£1 charge + refundable deposit paid in cash) was a good move but ask for a large locker!. The food was decent, although we were extremely tired when it came to having tea there, so it might not be the best assessment either way! You can come and go during the day, which we did. Also, the toilets were decent.

The exhibits keep on changing and so when the time is right, we will make another trip up the country to do some more exploring at the Life Science Centre.


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Discovery Museum, Newcastle

On our day trip to Newcastle, we took in the Life Science Centre (post here!). However, we also spent an hour or so at the Discovery Museum, which is about 10 minutes walk from the train station. If you’re struggling to find it, look for the imposing building. (think 19th century hospital!)

In truth, I wouldn’t really write a blog post about somewhere where we only spent an hour. However, the free attraction was so quaint, and delivered the most perfect memory to round off 2016, I simply had to!

Initially we went to make a lantern for the New Years Eve parade and I didn’t know much else about it before going in. However, the top floor was an absolute hidden gem of hands-on experiments and puzzles for children of all ages.

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Making a lantern

Obviously some will get different things out of each section, but the floor was crammed full of visual illusions/perceptions, as well as bits about motion, gravity, electricity and telephone communications.

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How many lights can you see?!

However, the best part of all was something hidden away in the corner – 3 mirrors put together – and it caused these reactions…

 

Heidi spent about 20 minutes in there playing/learning/experimenting. However, if it was not closing for the day, she could have been in there for hours!

Now, aside from this brilliant floor, the museum has 3 other floors detailing local history and other science-y things. However, we never got to see any of it as we grossly underestimated the time we needed!

This just gives us an excuse to come back to the Discovery Museum and explore, especially why there is a HUGE boat on the ground floor!!
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