Have a budding scientist or kinesthetic learner? Do consider planning a visit to Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum! It’s packed with the traditional museum displays plus a ton of hands on interactive learning stations, for kids to view, touch, explore, and play. Let me introduce you to a small fraction of the facilities and marvellous exhibits!
Thinktank is open every day, from 10:00 to 17:00, excluding Christmas Eve to Boxing Day, and is extremely popular with visitors. Don’t be surprised to see it packed with multiple school groups, in addition to lots of families! It’s a very well managed venue, despite visitor numbers. However, you may like to know that Thinktank run 3 homeschool days per year; special home educator dates are published a month in advance, on their website.
If you want a little structure to your visit, there are free family trails and activity packs that you can follow. However, there’s something to be said for simple freestyle exploration as the museum is so vast! Even if your little people are extremely determined, I don’t think you’ll get around half the exhibits in a day.
Our favourite interactive exhibit was the recycling centre. A conveyor belt constantly shoots out different recyclable items eg tin cans, plastic bottles. You then choose which of 6 slots to deposit the item eg aluminium, PET plastic. This was super fun, and definitely appealed to many young visitors. (We were less keen on the dance-a-thon video display, in another area; quite Wii U style, with a crowd of kids mimicking the dance steps.)
The outdoor science garden was another excellent interactive play area. It includes water features, a pulley ride, levers and pedals galore, a human sized hamster wheel, and an elaborate 8 meter high contraption called the Terminus machine – from my vantage point (it was covered with children) it sends giant tennis balls whizzing around a metal marble run, causing bells to ring.
When you need to make a rest stop, there’s ample facilities – the all important toilets plus a good sized café on Level 0 that sells the essential hot coffee for adults! For the very youngest, there is a softplay area on one of the floors but we didn’t venture into it.
To be honest, one of our most favourite areas was the gift shop on Level 2. There’s a huge range of items plus a decent selection of pocket money toys. (If you have an NUS card, there’s a 10% student discount.) Souvenirs are, of course, highly important – particularly if you’re a young person. The cheapest item is probably the Thinktank branded pin badges at £0.75 GBP.
Finally, the water feature, visible from Levels 0 and 1, was a close contender for best (spectator) activity. I think it fills with water constantly and then tips it out every 12 minutes or so. It certainly drew a small crowd, waiting for the noisy waterfall, every time I noticed it. Kids enjoy small pleasures, and that’s absolutely fine by me. It’s the little things that count, wouldn’t you agree?
Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum is located at Millennium Point, Curzon Street, Birmingham B4 7XG. Closest train stop is Moor Street Station. Nearest motorways are M5, M6, and M42; use postcode B4 7AP for your satnav.
Admission costs are free for children under 3 years old, and family tickets start from £33 GBP for a family of three. If any attendees are eligible for concessionary prices, it will be cheaper to purchase individual tickets.