In a low cost trip to London, we booked a family pass for a morning at Wonderlab at the Science Museum. Entry to the Wonderlab for us was £22.50, which was two adults and two children. Compared to many other exhibitions and attractions in London this was an absolute bargain.
Wonderlab Science Musuem
Wonderlab is based on the 3rd floor of the Science Museum. It has replaced the previous exhibit Launchpad and is about 50% bigger than before. The other change is that Launchpad was a free attraction, while now you need Wonderlab Tickets. Entry into the majority of the Science museum’s permanent exhibitions remains free.
Wonderlab is split into 7 sections each with many hands on activities to get involved in. Sections looking at Light and colours, Electricity, Forces and sounds were popular. There was also plenty of dry ice being used in different experiments.
We all walked straight passed a set up demonstrating how light interacts with coloured objects. A dark room with coloured toys around the room was illuminated by colour changing lights. At first it was unimpressive, but when I worked out what we were looking at it fascinated. A small shelf with coloured glasses on seemed to flick between colours as it was lit.
One of the big presentations here was how electricity arcs and sparks! This started off looking at static electric generated with a balloon and a nicely brushed kids hair. The next level was with a van de graaff generator which is a mechanical version of the rubbing a balloon action.
The big draw and attraction here was the Tesla Coil. This piece of equipment was suspended from the ceiling and kept safe via a key switch. The Science Museum Explainer said that the Tesla coil generated the equivalent to 1,000,000 Volts of electric. Compare that to the 240 Volts in our home, then you can see this device could be dangerous.
When the Tesla Coil was turned on a loud crackling, buzz was generated alongside purple / pink arcing sparks. It was impressive to see and we were front row. The noise that this created was heard through out the full exhibition, so it was hard to miss.
Live Science Shows
Several times during the morning were Live Science Shows. These were presented in a private lecture style theatre. The show we saw was “Under Pressure”. This looked at how forces are applied and used in our lives. From bridges, to the shape of an egg to the way the London Underground tunnels are shaped.
Imogen and Abigail seemed to enjoy this and the Science Museum guided the “lecture” with humour and entertainment. At one point a male volunteer was hit across the chest with a mallet (there is more to it than that). Which demonstrated how weight and pressure could be spread across a larger area. This finally lead up to inviting the children to sit on a torturous chair of nails.
Space and light
In the middle of the exhibition was a large rotating turntable set into the floor. This demonstrated a hands on model of the Moon orbiting the Earth as the Earth rotated around the Sun. It was a relatively simple set up, but fun enough to draw you in. Abigail kept returning to it, which is possibly related to learning about planets recently.
Friction and Slides
The slides are featured in the Science museums promotion of Wonderlab, so it would be a shame to miss them out. There are three slides made of different materials. One covered in Astroturf, One in Fibre glass and one in laminated wood. This demonstrated that different surfaces were better or worse for creating friction. Or in other words, which slide is the fastest.
Wonderlab Science Museum Review
As a London attraction the Science Museum offers a lot of interesting things to do. I do feel that there was a very strong pressure on you to purchase tickets for exhibits / donate to the museum. As you enter you are filtered passed till style checkouts and asked if you would like to make a donation. As we’d bought tickets and donated online, I felt I had to explain myself.
The Cost to see Wonderlab wasn’t out of the question. I totally understand that someone has to pay to keep these things going and the upkeep can’t be cheap. As exhibits get damaged then the costs start to roll back in. Out of 50 exhibits in Wonderlab we did notice a few that were out of action. Nothing that majorly ruined the day though. Maybe you don’t miss what you don’t know!
Wonderlab did start to fill up as the morning went on. And it wasn’t too long before you were queuing up to try things out. I think the queue for the friction slides was around 20 minutes. We only saw one of the four Live Science Shows, but I’m sure if we’d tried them all it would have been a full day.
I have a fascination with Science and this type of museum interests me more that a history based one. With this being an interactive exhibition and allowing the kids to get their hand on to the equipment, it engages them so much more. I’m sure we’ll end up back here on future trips, but the problem is there is so many other things to explore too.
Wonderlab is in The Statoil Gallery
Food at the Science Museum
After our morning at Wonderlab we tried out the sandwich / snack bar on Level 2. Not the most adventurous choice of food, but I guess we should have gone to a restaurant for that. A quick sandwich, with large salad leaves.
And when in London… you’ve got to try London Lager!
It was a light slightly flower lager, which was easy to drink. and served in a much larger bottle than Cat’s wine.