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 ...

20 comments:

  1. Wow! What an interesting place! You did a great job of selling it. Lovely photos too - thank you for sharing them. x

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  2. I had a good old chuckle about Nina being a 'real' scientist - how could you ever compare :)

    Lovely post Val and I know we would all love that place too - we're geeky scientists too, although DH is far far geekier than me - he even has Eureka moments!

    By the way - 3,4 and 5? I take my hat well and truly off to you. There is 16 months between my two and that was hard work but three little littlies - wow!!!!

    Lesley xx

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  3. Hello Kitty - there's a job going there showing people around and describing the exhibits to visiting schoolchildren - and if I lived in this neck of the woods I would be applying like a shot.

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  4. I love your girls! And science nerds of the world unite.

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  5. Yay Val! I love your science posts. Glad you had a great time - my children love science too. They complained bitterly when we left the science museum in Toronto this summer after 8 hours of playing, prodding and poking!!!

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  6. what a fantastic place, I want to go and climb on that dna too!

    I think to your children that you can never be anything other than their mum, because to them that is the most important thing you can be...

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  7. Hi Val! I love Hurstmonceux it's a great place to visit. Have you been there over August Bank Holiday for the medieval festival? They reenact the siege of the castle, it's mad but great fun!
    Kimx

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  8. Yup, you have to face it Val, you really are a science geek! But we love you for it!!! (and it's so great when I need to answer the children's tricky questions!)

    Glad you had fun!

    lucy xxx

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  9. This sounds like a marvelous place for geeks young and old. My kids, husband and I would all love it there too. Happy valentine's Day to you!

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  10. I have never felt quite so undermined as when my son explained kindly that the reason I could not do his maths homework was because I have 'an old-fashioned brain'. So much for my degree.

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  11. Dropping by to wish you and your dear family a Happy Valentine's Day! Have a most lovely day.

    Smiles...

    Beverly

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  12. Happy Valentines Day from our hearts to yours!

    blessings,
    kari & kijsa

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  13. Looks like groovy fun. Happy Valentines day :)

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  14. What a great place! Our kids would go crazy over the telescope too!!

    blessings,
    kari & kijsa

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  15. I detect you were just a teensy weensy bit excited about this place ;) I don't blame you, even I got excited by the climbing DNA and tornado in a jar! Never knew that trains had cone-shaped wheels either. That could be very useful in the pub quiz one day!

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  16. Blooming heck - I nearly wet myself in excitement...the 8yr old science geek I managed to spawn is definitely going there for an Easter holiday treat.

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  17. Geek away, Lady! We went to Manchester's science museum on Friday and I loved it... a lot of Chemistry going on with colour and bangs at the head of the list. I think we need more proper mad scientists with white lab coats in this country, and you can't start them too young!

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  18. Wow, this place looks fantastic. My husband and boys would absolutely love it as they are all into science.
    As we're in Melbourne probably puts it out of day trip distance, but if we are ever over your way, I'll add it to the to do list!

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  19. Val
    I had three in three years.. didn't kill me, but certainly tested my sanity..

    Now that I think about it, 3 in 3 years, is probably what tipped my sanity over the edge!


    Lissa

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