Our Visits to the Science Museum London With Preschoolers
The Science Museum London was founded way back in 1857. It is one of the city’s major tourist attractions, attracting over 3 million visitors annually.
There are two reasons we love the Science Museum London so much.
Firstly, it gets (unfairly) overshadowed by its neighbour, the Natural History Museum. Consequently, you often don’t queue to get in (unlike at the NHM). Secondly, it has so many hands-on exhibits that makes it a great experience for even very small children!
Interactive Areas for Younger Children
In the basement (-0 Level), there is The Garden (not actually a garden). This is a fantastic interactive space, designed for children aged 3–6 (though our children have loved it from being younger) to learn about science through play.
The space includes water play, exhibits to explore how sound and light works and toys to test out construction. Children can develop the skills of observing, predicting, testing and drawing conclusions – oh and having a lot of fun too. Museum staff, or “Explainers” are on hand to help you and your children get the most out of the experience.
We also love Pattern Pod on the 1st floor – a wonderful multi-sensory area for children under 8 years old. The interactive exhibits are designed to help children recognise and copy patterns such as virtual water ripples and symmetrical images on touch screens.
They can draw their own patterns on a tablet which is projected onto the wall and step into the room which mirrors your movements on a screen in a variety of pattern and colour explosions. Again, Explainers are on hand to encourage exploration.
The Wonder Lab
We haven’t visited the Museum’s new Wonder Lab area (Level 3) yet but it sounds amazing! Wonder Lab let’s you get hands on with real scientific phenomena. From live experiments at the Chemistry Bar, to seeing lightning strike before your eyes, and travelling through space under a canopy of stars. You can also explore physics on the giant slides! The talented Explainers, lead a daily programme of live demonstrations and shows. Visitors have to pay to enter The Wonder Lab area, whereas (most) of the rest of the museum free. Current prices (May 2017) are £6 for a day pass or £10 for an annual ticket. We suspect it is well worth it!
More to See
Children of all ages will enjoy the museum and there’s plenty more to see. There’s amazing engines in the Energy Hall, the ever-changing giant plant Earth in the Exploring Space area (both on the ground floor, Level 0) and a Robot Exhibition on until September 2017 (Level 1). There’s also an IMAX cinema and Fly Zone with flight simulators (both the cinema and simulators attract a fee).
The Museum has a variety of special events at weekends and school holidays. We made a prism out of plastic on our visit with the help of an Explainer. Once it was finished we could use it to watch moving pictures on!
Eating and Drinking
The museum has 5 cafes. We think that the Deep Blue Diner on Level 0 (our favourite for it’s funky lighting!) and the Basement Cafe on Level -1 are best for families with small children. In addition, there is a shake bar in the Wonderlab and dedicated indoor picnic areas where you can eat a packed lunch.
Details for Visiting
Address: Science Museum London, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2DD
Telephone: 0333 241 4000
Opening hours: Daily 10.00-18.00
Getting there: 7 minute walk from South Kensington tube station (District & Circle and Piccadilly lines). NB this station is not step-free.
Age range: Any age – even babies / toddlers will love the children’s exhibits.
Cost: Free entry but there is a charge for the IMAX cinema, flight simulators and the Wonderlab.
Facilities: Accessible for wheelchairs / buggies, cloakroom / buggy park (chargeable), family friendly cafes, accessible toilets, baby change facilities.
Where next? Walk down to Kensington Gardens or Hyde Park for a run around.
(Please note: opening hours, costs and contact details correct as of February 2017. The photos were taken on a trip to the Science Museum in August 2016.)