Thinktank

During the Easter holiday the weather was awful so like a lot of families we spent a lot of time visiting museums  (as it is today hence why I’m writing a museum trip up rather than writing about tennis like I was going to as it was rained off!). After our trip to Leamington Spa Musuem and Art Gallery and the National Space Centre we thought we’d try another museum that is signed up to the Kids in Museums Manifesto and head for Thinktank: Birmingham Science Museum.

Unlike the Art Gallery and the Space Centre I think that Thinktank is ideal for the age of the Littlesheeps (7,5 and 3) and on the day we went it wasn’t too busy so there was plenty for them to do and they could take their time in having a go at all the hands on bits.

The first exhibits that they looked at were the recycling centres. There is a conveyer belt where you can see how rubbish is sorted so that it can be recycled and then interactive models showing composting, the recycling of plastic bottles and the recycling of steel cans. In addition there are displays showing what the recycled material can be made into. The Littlesheeps were most impressed that recycled plastic bottles can become fleece to make clothes.

Then we raced up to the 360˚ planetarium for a showing of “The Little Star who Could” which is a story about a star who finds out about the different types of stars (the hottest to the coldest, the biggest and the smallest) in his search for planets before he finds out he has planets, the planets then introduce themselves and the star finds out that he is our Sun. Littlest Littlesheep like the story, Biggest Littlesheep learnt lots of solar system and star facts but Middle Littlesheep was a bit anxious about the dark!

The Wildlife Gallery was very popular with the Littlesheeps (not least because there was a worksheet to complete!). They were very interested in seeing the fossilised skeletons and stuffed extinct animals. Littlest Littlesheep liked the crocodile in the floor best because he could crawl over the top of it, Biggest Littlesheep demonstrated his knowledge of food chains and Middle Littlesheep liked the stuffed Polar Bear.

Biggest Littlesheep also enjoyed solving the clues in the forensics exhibition to work out who it was who broke into the safe to steal the jewels.

We then went and had lunch – Thinktank gets lots of points here because as well as having a café they also have a substantial picnic area for those who have brought their own food.

After lunch we went back up to the 360˚ planetarium for a look at the night sky as it would have been that evening (if only we could have blown the clouds away) – it was interesting seeing this and comparing it to the show we saw at the Space Centre and I was surprised at how much they had remembered.

The Find the Future exhibition was a bit complicated for the Littlesheeps but they enjoyed learning about the robot camera tablet that can take pictures throughout your digestive system, using the microscope to see the tiny Thinktank logo on a penny coin and programming the robotic drum kit. Programming the Mars Rover was too hard but they all enjoyed designing an alien suitable for the different planets.

Again the Medicine Matters exhibit was probably a bit advanced science for the Littlesheeps but they had a good time in the simulation of carrying out a hip replacement (something that they discussed again this week because one of their teaching assistants is having a knee replacement).

The Things about Me (TAM) exhibition was much more appropriate for their age group and they really enjoyed the look at a giant sized human body. They were fascinated by the look at the digestive system (boys and poo – need I say more), enjoyed finding out more about how muscles work (and joining the TAM gang for an aerobics workout), exploring more about the senses, testing their reflexes in the pop up to test and finding out about breathing, blood and circulation.

Surprisingly the Littlesheeps didn’t enjoy the Kid’s City gallery (designed especially for children under 7 years old) as much as I thought they would. They only had a cursory look at the different areas – the mini city: health centre, a café, a garage before finding the water play area. The water play area was very popular with lots of different water based mechanical experiments including investigating water wheels, pumps and the water screw.

The Littlesheeps weren’t that interested in the City Stories gallery so we quickly moved down to the group floor see the various working engines and the transport through the ages (again there were some trails for them to do).

They were awed by the size of the different engines and were very interested in all the ‘hands on’ explanations that demonstrate how the engines converted their energy into energy that was useful for industry.

The transport section was also interesting to them – with the Spitfire and Hurricane planes hung from the ceiling were the first time the had seen anything like this and watching the robots building the car. The also enjoyed playing the networks game moving the goods from Birmingham to the ports around Britain by rail, road and canal – trying to get there before the time and money ran out.

Littlest Littlesheep was in awe of the ‘beautiful’ big train and it was the highlight of his day… guess we must schedule in that trip to the train museum in York!

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