Wednesday, 13 February 2008
Kiddie science heaven
My sister introduced us to *the most fabulous place* yesterday - the Science Centre at Herstmonceux Observatory. Small Small was very excited at the prospect: "Will we be able to do experiments with a real scientist?". Well, I'm a real scientist. "No, a REAL scientist. Like Nina." Glad to see all those years of study weren't a waste then.
This was the site of the rehoused Greenwich Royal Observatory for many years, and is a rather odd looking place from a distance, with a collection of slowly greening copper domes housing huge telescopes. As you get closer you start to see that the grounds are filled with hands on experiments designed to challenge and entertain tiny scientists (and their mums).
We started with a run round outside playing with water wheels and turbines
and rolling sticks (did you know that train wheels are specially cone shaped to help them go round corners?).
What could this be?
If you look closely the letters "C" and "G" may give you a clue that this is ...
A DNA helix for climbing on! I very nearly swooned.
A very charming older gentleman told us the history of the observatory, and showed us how a telescope worked and even opened the roof of one of the domes where Patrick Moore used to work, and twirled it around.
Then he allowed the children to control the telescope - how exciting was that? Very exciting, I can tell you. I even saw the moon through the roof.
And it doesn't stop there. Inside are more exhibits including a captive tornado:
and a plasma ball - at least I think that's what it was called. By this time I was overcome with excitement and squeaking a lot. A LOT.
A high point was surely the life sized model of a human torso, complete with removable organs. Located directly opposite the cafe. I shall spare you the photos, but we had a long discussion about how all the pipes link up and how wee is made (well, they are 3, 4,and 5).
Edited: I should explain - the 4 year old is my niece. Having three little ones a year apart would probably have killed me ;-)
And the best bit? A gift shop full of science books! Yes, I am a geek and there's no hope for me ...