Far from stuffy museums and test tubes, the latest crop of science attractions in the UK are interactive, exciting and full of the kind of inspiration that could turn a child’s inquisitiveness into a lifelong interest in what makes us (and our world) tick. Make science fun with a visit to the best family-friendly science attractions in the UK – get your lab coat and safety goggles ready!
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If your kids love science, these science days out are amazing – fun and educational, with plenty to keep the whole family entertained.
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Family-Friendly Science Attractions in the UK
Magna Science Adventure Centre, Rotherham
The Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham, near Sheffield is housed in a conversion of a former steelworks which has won a prize from the Royal Institute of Architects.
Today this impressive building is inspiring budding scientists as it is divided in to areas that explore Earth, Wind, Water and Fire with engaging, interactive exhibits, games and activities. It may be science aimed at kids, but it will keep parents equally amazed. A huge water park and gravity defying play area add to the fun.
- The Air Pavilion is a “zeppelin” suspended from the ceiling 15 meters up
- In the Fire Pavilion there’s a five meter “fire tornado
- Hands-on earth-moving with a JCB in the Earth Pavilion
- The Big Melt recreates the drama of the giant Arc Furnace of the original steel mill
- Special events, such as slime masterclasses
Prices from:£4.50 for children (under 2s free) and £10.95 for adults
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Life Centre, Newcastle
At Life, your child has the chance to be a scientist for the day. Serious scientific research sits side by side with science education and science fun in Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Life Science Village. The Life Science Centre features a great range of exhibitions and activities that really bring science to life for kids of all ages.
In the Experiment Zone they can meet real scientists, carry out practical experiments and take part in actual research projects taking place at local universities. The Curiosity Zone will fire your child’s imagination with tasks including building a chain reaction and composing music, while the Robot exhibition lets them get up close to some of the most famous bots from TV and the movies. There’s also a Young Explorers’ Zone, perfect for the under-7s.
- The biggest planetarium in the North of England
- A science theatre where real scientists, doctors and astronauts act as “explainers” on a variety of topics and demonstrations
- A motion simulator ride
- A Young Explorer Zone for very young children
Prices from: £8 for children (under 4s free) and £15 for adults
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Dynamic Earth Science Centre, Edinburgh
Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh gives you the chance to experience the primeval forces of nature and see how they shaped our planet.
The top visitor attraction in Edinburgh will take you on a journey that spans time to witness the story of planet earth. In this interactive tour you will feel the heat of a bubbling volcano and the chill of the polar ice before landing in the tropical rainforest and coming face to face with dinosaurs!
- Travel on a time machine
- Feel the Earth move
- Touch a real-life iceberg
Prices from: £8.80 for children (under 4s free) and £14 for adults £14
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National Space Centre, Leicester
If your child has been inspired by the mysteries of space, a trip to the National Space Centre in Leicester will be an unforgettable day out. There are lots of practical activities for kids to get stuck into, including mining moon rock, controlling a spaceship and learning to spacewalk!
With 250 exhibits, and over 100 of those interactive, they can find out about how space informs weather forecasting, watch an incredible 360-degree movie in the UK’s largest planetarium. If that’s not enough, you can marvel at the 42m rocket tower or space walk around three floors of activities exploring the space race and beyond.
- Go starry eyed at the planetarium
- Explore black holes
- Take a 3D simulator mission to the ice moon Europa
- Test-drive a Martian Rover robot
Prices from: £11 for children (under 5s free) and £14 for adults
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London Science Museum
London’s Science Museum is the most famous science attractions in the UK, and still one of the best. From the bright light saucers to whispering tubes, kids will love discovering the wonders of science through these hands on experience. The museum is packed with amazing technology sure to blow the youngest and most inquisitive of minds!
- Children can explore the history of space travel and take a virtual tour of the International Space Station
- Visit the Discovery Motion 3D cinema
- Find out how the body works
- See what the first Apple computer looked like
- Basement garden for mini scientists
Don’t forget to check out the website for a busy programme of educational shows and details of a brand new kids’ permanent gallery, Wonderlab.
Admission is free.
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We The Curious, Bristol
Formerly known as @ Bristol, We The Curious has to be one of the country’s best hands-on science centres for kids, with a constantly changing programme of events.
Handily located in Bristol city centre, this two-floor science centre is packed full of treats such as the Invention Lab, where they can make their own light-up badge; Good Vibrations, a stage show that explores the science of sound; and the exciting 3D planetarium show.
- The UK’s only 3D Planetarium
- Guided through exhibits by experts from the Live science team
- Loads of experiments to take part in
- See how our bodies work, including seeing blood flowing through our veins
- Discover all about food in the sensory arcade
- Make your own creations come to life in the animation workshop
Prices from: £9.40 for children (under 2s free) and £14.60 for adults
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Glasgow Science Centre
With three floors of interactive exhibits, Glasgow Science Centre features the hugely popular Bodyworks Zone (not that your children probably need to know more about snot, but this is the place to be!). If motion is more up their alley, then a visit to the Powering the Future exhibit where children can find out how energy is generated and even launch a hydrogen powered rocket is a must.
In the new Question of Perception, your whole universe will be tilted in the Wacky Salon. There are visual illusions, physical challenges and mind-bending puzzles to engage your brain.
Every exhibit will make you rethink how you experience the world. There are also all the old favourites such as plasma balls, chaos pendulums and whispering dishes, plus live shows on topics ranging from the night sky to lung dissection – not for the faint-hearted!
- Every”body” will love the Bodyworks zone
- Visit the famous Glasgow Tower for an extra £3.50 add on to your entrance ticket
- Challenge your concept of perception with the new exhibit
- Visit the space zone and Planetarium
Prices from: £8.60 for children (under 3s free) and £10.45 for adults
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Aberdeen Science Centre
Previously known as Satrosphere, Aberdeen Science Centre was Scotland’s first science centre and although it’s a smaller than some of the other better-known science museums, it still offers a great day out.
It’s perfectly pitched for primary school children with hands-on activities exploring simple scientific concepts. There are plenty of experiments for all ages to enjoy and the planetarium show is also well worth a watch.
There are regular special events, such as the astronaut training workshop, and Little Scientist days (for ages 3-5) with themes like minibeasts and the human body.
- Little Scientist Day workshops
- Planetarium for your space enthusiasts
- A well-stocked science shop for pocket money treats
Prices from: £5 for children (under 3s free) and £5.75 for adults
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There’s lots to discover at Techniquest, which was originally founded by experts from Cardiff University’s science department. The UK’s longest established science discovery centre develops and sells exhibits to similar venues all over the world.
Designed to make real science fun and engaging for all ages, the centre has attracted over 4 million people since it opened in 1986.
There are lots of interactive exhibitions throughout the centre, including areas where children can play with water (be prepared to get wet), discover how electricity works, as well as lots of optical illusions, puzzles and games. There are extra special exhibits that change regularly throughout the year, which means there’s always something new to see, learn and do!
- Work a robotic arm
- Touch electricity with your fingertips
- Get wet learning about hydraulic systems
- Toddler days
Prices from: £6 for children (under 3s free) and £7.20 for adults
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W5 stands for who, what, where, when, why – and, as its name suggests, it’s full of opportunities for your child to discover and learn. It boasts 250 interactive exhibits including the Discovery area for under-8s; DO where children can build structures, design a wind turbine and bring a robot to life; and the brilliant RoboThespian, a humanoid that children can program to sing, act and do impressions.
Why not become a car mechanic and customise a real Mini in the W5 Garage, make a splash at the water area with ball canons, pop into the music studio and make some noise with the sound exhibits, plot a course with the life-size dinghy, watch your skeleton ride a bike, or take time out at the role play Tesco and cafe staffed by you!
They also have an area with exhibits particularly suited for under-5s. Design a butterfly or flower and explore your senses with the sounds and feel of nature in the woodland area, become an interior designer and decorate your little house just how you want it. Then create your own roads, villages, railways and take a journey round their model landscape.
If that’s not enough then there’s also a daily programme of live science shows and demonstrations, and children can burn off any steam they have left in Climbit, a huge multi-storey climbing structure.
- Specialist areas for under-8s and under-5s
- Get elevated on the pulley chairs
- Explore space
- Role play to excite young imagination
- Climbit play area
Prices from: £7.50 for children (under 3s free) and £9.80 for adults
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Science on the Road
Science Zone at Butlins
Back for another year of wacky experiments, The Science Zone at Butlins Resorts is open during all school holiday breaks throughout 2018, excluding Christmas breaks. Ideal for children aged 8+, their Science Zones are perfect for the whole family to learn about science and get hands-on with some really cool and fun experiments.
- Make your own bath bomb: Learn about the fantastic chemistry that makes your bath bomb fizz. Make your own bath bomb from scratch and then get the opportunity to customise it with fragrances and colour.
- The Virtuali-Tee: Bring your smartphone, download the free app and come and experience a magic lens into a world inside the body. You’ll find yourself jumping into a pumping heart of an awesome anatomical adventure using fully animated 3D reality technology.
- How to be an Astronaut: Test your skills, reaction times and fitness to learn more about the challenges of space exploration and whether you too can reach for the stars!
- Code Breaking Challenge: Bletchley Park is back with new clues, new challenges and cracking new codes to break! Start at the Science Zone and see where it takes you. Are your kids the next Code Breaker?
- Buzz Wire Challenge: Guide the loop around the course without touching the sides.
Available at Bognor Regis, Skegness and Minehead resorts. Admission included in the cost of your holiday.
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Horrible Science Show
From the acclaimed producers of Horrible Histories comes the seriously mind-blowing showcase of Horrible Science!
Why don’t penguins get spots? Could picking your nose be dangerous? Why doesn’t the moon wander off? Could a 10-million-volt battery float over your head? And how long would it take for your heart to pump enough blood to fill the theatre? Using actors and jaw-dropping 3D Bogglevision, this astounding show has the awful answers guaranteed to thrill you and your children.
Check touring dates here to find a venue near you.
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Ministry of Science Live
Ministry of Science Live is no ordinary science show. It comes with a bang! And not forgetting of course the hovercraft, the Human Cannon and hydrogen bottle rockets. This production looks at the inventors and engineers who have shaped the modern world.
From the discovery of methane to the battery, from Buzz Aldrin to Virgin Galactic, your youngsters will love being taken on a journey by the super talented presenters and voice over from X Factor’s Peter Dickinson. Revel in the brilliant demonstrations and a few loud bangs along the way.
Check touring dates here to find a venue near you.
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The Big Bang Fair (March 2019)
Aimed at young people (primarily aged 7-19), the exhibition shows off the exciting and rewarding opportunities out there for them with the right experience and qualifications, by bringing classroom learning to life.
The Big Bang Fair is an award-winning combination of exciting theatre shows, interactive workshops, exhibits and career information from STEM professionals. The 2019 Fair will be held at The NEC, Birmingham 13-16 March 2019.
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Which of these science attractions in the UK have you visited? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!