When I saw the adverts for New Scientist Live in the newspaper, I wasn’t sure whether it would be a little too grown up for children. After trawling the website I decided to take a risk and book tickets. After all, anywhere that tells you you’ll get to be a human remote control for Mario has to have something to entertain the whole family. It turns out we were right to take a risk and the place is AMAZING for kids and adults alike.
Held at the ExCeL centre in London, it was easy to access and we were waiting at the doors at 10:00 raring to go. With a detailed timetable online, we had already planned what were must sees for the both of us and couldn’t wait to go in. I’d chosen to get us the VIP upgrade on our tickets as we really wanted to attend the talk with Tim Peake, Helen Sharman and Al Worden which was truly inspiring.
The first stand we encountered was from The University of Manchester, who were demonstrating DNA. B made a bracelet (I think representing strands of DNA), and we were shown how to split DNA from strawberries.
Next up we found the Middlesex University stands and B truly found his tribe. With everything from controlling a game of Mario with your own body, to a virtual reality rollercoaster, this stand had it all. Due to age restrictions on wearing the headset, B had a modified “ride” on the rollercoaster, fuelling his desire to design them even more.
Next up was the much anticipated legendary space talk. I wasn’t sure whether B would manage an hour listening to the speakers, but he did so with aplomb. Sometimes our children do surprise us with their capabilities. Hearing the stories from these people was astonishing. Debating about potential visits to Mars, whether to revisit the moon, and just how will they create the spaceship capable of all this, was fascinating. The resounding points for me though, were on how the whole world collaborates on space projects. It doesn’t matter what the political situation is, the space program overrides differences and works together. Something we could all learn from.
We took a quick break for lunch (I even managed to find a gluten free vegan option) and back to the stands. Our first port of call was to The Mary Rose Trust. We held (and sniffed) a piece of original rope from the infamous ship and chatted all things Henry VIII. This has inspired us to plan a trip down to Portsmouth to visit the historic dockyard.
Our next discovery was the Bloodhound supersonic car, something B knows far more than me about, I expect thanks to Whizz Pop Bang magazine. How better to learn about engineering than boxes full of K’Nex, an air pump, tubes and a smooth surface. We had great fun building a car, testing it out and then making modifications to improve it.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon hurling jellybabies at castles, looking at bone density with the use of ultrasounds, discovering the amazing app courtesy of Education Harbour and programming a robot to play with Hot Wheels.
The event is on until Sunday so there is still time to visit. We can’t wait until next year!