For Heidi and I, 2018 was the year we loved London and loved Science. As such, one of our favourite places to go was Wonderlab at the Science Museum. Located a 5-10 minute walk from South Kensington Underground, it is the ideal place for inquisitive minds.
What is Wonderlab?
Wonderlab is located on the top floor of the Science Museum and is home to the more interactive exhibits. Wonderlab is a paid attraction (see later) but it is well worth the expense as the attraction is really interactive for children.
There are loads of hands-on experiments that the children can get involved in, from magnetism, to colour blending, to heat cameras. In the open plan floor, pretty much everything is available to touch, play with and learn with.
There are a couple of areas where there are demonstrations. One is the electric exhibition, where you can see lightning being created – clearly a bit dangerous, hence the led demonstration!! The other is the mini lecture theatre, where there are shows every 40 minutes or so. These aren’t especially interactive, pretty much because they involve setting fire to things, making rockets and that kind of thing. Whilst not interactive, they are fun to watch and really educational.
Top Tip – If your child is a little nervous, sit on the seats on the right as you go in. Here, you can make a quick getaway if it becomes too much!
What is the ideal age range?
Whilst there is a lot to see, do and play with, there is also a lot that can be learnt. As such, I feel as though pre-school children wouldn’t really get much out of it. However, they will get the visual impact of the experiments, which is an excellent starting point. However, under 3’s are free so that is a bonus!!
School aged children with an inquisitive mind are absolutely perfect for Wonderlab. They will ask questions that they have never thought about before and will think about things a different way. Just be prepared to do a lot of explaining!!
How long does it take?
It all depends on how engaged your child is. Heidi has been in for 5 hours before and I have had to drag her away as we had a train to catch. However, if you’re short on time, you could spend an hour and a half and see/do most things. However, you wouldn’t have time to see any of the demonstrations.
When is the best time to go?
The Wonderlab does get busy at weekends and school holidays. However, it has never been absolutely packed, even in the middle of summer. Clearly, the best time would be during the week in the school term (such as a teacher training day) but I would not let it put you off whatsoever.
What are the facilities like?
As the Wonderlab is in its own little area at the top floor of the Science Museum, the facilities are limited. The only facilities are the toilets which are hidden away behind the maths puzzles at the back.
However, just outside the Wonderlab is a shop, as well as a Shake Bar. Here you can buy sandwiches, ice creams and milkshakes (obviously!). There is a large area of seating so you should be fine finding a seat. However, the Shake Bar closes early and so if you promise an ice cream, make sure you go sooner rather than later. I am speaking from experience on that one…!!
On the ground floor, there is a cafe and an amazing shop!
Is it worth the annual pass?
As at January 2019, the prices are:
- Adults – £10
- Concessions including children 4-16 year old – £8
- Senior (aged 60+) – £9
- Family (3-5 visitors with no more than 2 adults) – £2 off per day pass
- Adults – £15
- Concessions including children 4-16 year old – £13
- Senior (aged 60+) – £9
- Family (3-5 visitors with no more than 2 adults) – £3 off per annual pass
As you can see, if you’re going to visit the Wonderlab twice or more in a year, you are best going for the annual pass. In 2018, we visited 4 times from Leeds and so if you love London, (or live nearby) it is well worth it.
I think it is safe to say that Wonderlab is one of Heidi’s favourite places in London and I joke that she would love to live there! It has increased her knowledge of science so much, and provided so many happy memories. I can’t wait for us to go back in 2019!
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