The National Space Centre, Leicester (by Robert)

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Outside the National Space Centre in Leicester

Robert, who’s 10, writes: You may or may not know that I love space and that is why going to the National Space Centre in Leicester was one of the highlights of my holiday. There were so many things to do, from watching films to launching rockets and I loved every bit.

The ground floor with the shop and cafe was the main and biggest part of the museum with four sections; Exploring the Universe, The Planets, Orbiting Earth and Space now. Each part had a great mix of interactive and non-interactive displays including thing to touch, see and do. Fact boards were scattered around the ground floor, most of which had a variety of objects in a glass cases which were to do with the piece of text. Touch screen computers (or whatever the technology was called) let you play games or watch videos, all of which were relevant to artefacts around it. Some of my favourites were creating my own planet, doing quizzes and seeing the world from up close then zooming out billions of metres.

Information sign at the National Space Centre, Leicester
We learnt a lot!

Personally I liked learning more by doing the activities provided. There was a reaction test with two levels where you had to hit buttons when they lit up; I wasn’t very good at it! I also enjoyed building a sponge rocket. You had seven different parts to assemble into a rocket and you had to do it inside one minute. Jess and I completed the task in 31 seconds; mum and dad didn’t do so well. There were stars to count, things to make, big bangs to create and even two full sized model shuttles to go into and explore. The centre was great for everyone; mum and dad enjoyed it as much as us.

The Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium was brilliant. Our ticket enabled us to go and see a show called “We are stars”. This film was all about how the world was created and as it was a planetarium the story was all around you. It was so well done as an extremely complex science was put into an animation which younger children could understand. It was funny, interesting and some of the pictures of space were just amazing. As the story was in front, behind, above and beside you at some points you felt a bit dizzy but it was perfectly fine. The story was fascinating and I could’ve watched it again. If you go, do not miss it as it only plays at certain times.

One of my favourite bits of the whole museum was the tranquillity star base. After seven stages you found out what position you would be in space, I was a mechanic. At each section your barcode on your ticket was scanned and then you started the next test. There were reaction tests, medical tests, logic tests and more. My favourite was a bumpy simulator where you felt as though you were travelling in space. This ride is six minutes long with a six minute briefing. It is 3D and you get jerked around a lot so you don’t have to go on it. You still get given a role at the end even if you skip a few sections.

Reading the weather news at the National Space Centre, Leicester,
Robert gives a weather report

Another thing I liked was the weather dome where you presented the weather on the news. You read out lines from a screen in front of you and gestured to the different pictures of countries behind you. After you completed all your lines you went out of the dome and you could watch your video. Remember that this will be the only time to see yourself unless you do it again and also do not speak too fast, as that could mean you are talking about hot weather in Africa while pointing at the rainy UK.

Taking part in a space mission
Taking part in a space mission

The last three floors were much smaller but had the same amount of facts and information. The journey from the first floor to the top is 42m so you get a great view. On floor one (New Frontiers) you could launch rockets and on floor three (Leaving Earth) you heard all about the space race and Russia’s triumphant first man above earth. Also on that floor was a section which simulated launching a small shuttle. 1-2 people were in the control room and instructed the single person in the shuttle what to do. After a few minutes the rocket “took off”, watch out for the smoke. The fourth floor consisted of Neil Armstrong’s story, a version of guess who and lots of time lines.

Over all It was a fantastic day out and I would really recommend it. You don’t even need good weather to enjoy it!

Read about my trip to Space Camp at Kennedy Space Center, Florida!

Disclosure: We visited the Space Centre as guests on a “Family Fun short break” called Stay Play Explore, which is run by Leicester Shire Promotions. There are a range of these breaks, which cost £129 for two adults and two children, and which include an overnight stay in a hotel (we stayed in the Hilton Leicester) and the opportunity to visit three attractions in the area. You can find out more from their website.

the Pigeon Pair and Me
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41 Responses

  1. Michelle

    I remember passing signs for this when we went to Alton Towers years ago. Haven’t managed a day out there as yet though…. we’ve been to Kennedy Space Centre and to the Johnson Space Centre (in Houston, TX) so we do love a space themed day out!

  2. Emma

    Great write up! You can see how much you are enjoying it from the pictures! It looks like a really fun day out! 🙂

  3. Pinkoddy

    We went over the summer too – fantastic isn’t it. My son learnt about Space last year and it was fantastic to see how much he had remembered.

  4. Rachel

    Ive seen the signs for this but have never been. Not too sure I would enjoy it as much now as I would have done as a child x

  5. Kara

    We went in July and had a brilliant time. There is so much interactive things to do and everything the kids learned has stayed with them too

  6. Jen

    We really enjoyed our visit a couple of years ago, however, thought that it was looking a little run down.

  7. Jackie

    Looks like a lot of fun and I agree with Robert that museum exhibits you can experience are always the best. If you’re ever in the U.S., the Hayden Planetarium in New York City and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. would be great experiences, too!

    • Sarah Ebner

      We can’t wait to visit the Air and Space Museum later this year as we are visiting DC – hopefully New York one day soon. We have never taken the kids and I love it there! Thanks so much for your comment.

  8. Vicky and Buddy

    I think my favorite parts would be the simulator and giving the weather report. I love anything interactive. When I was a kid I went to the Kennedy Space Center and loved it.

  9. katja - globetotting

    I had not idea that Leicester had a space centre! It looks and sounds like a lot of fun, especially the weather dome. I love the idea of reading out the weather on the news. Thanks for a great review Robert!

  10. Mallory

    I love space. I love going to planetariums at any chance in new cities. I wish I could see the film “We are Stars”! So cool!

  11. anna

    Kids naturally love anything to do with Space-specially boys! This has always been a popular unit within the kids that I taught!

  12. Brianna

    Robert, I loved reading about your visit to the National Space Center. We have several great space museums here in the US, most notably the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

  13. Laura

    Great description, Robert! I prefer learning by doing at these type of museums too. That’s what makes it so fun. You can see how things work for yourself.

  14. Trish Burgess

    I can see why this was a big hit with Robert. We have had a couple of visits over the years with our son – always a great attraction and not dependent on the weather.

  15. oana79

    Sounds amazing, Robert and Sarah, £129 for two adults and two children with a hotel stay and three local attractions included is more than reasonable!xx

    • Jonny (Daisy the bus)

      This sounds like a wonderful hands-on Museum, perfect for young curious minds. I know that my 11-year old would be in his element here.

      Talking of my eleven-year old, I also know that he wouldn’t be able to pen such a brilliant report, even in his preferred writing language (German). Congratulations young Robert!!

  16. Five Adventurers

    Great post and looks like you had a great time. We visited in 2013 and were super excited as hubby is an aerospace engineer. However, we were a little disappointed. think it may have been just the day we visited as it sounds great. Think we need to revisit 🙂

  17. Penny

    This is so near us but we only got there for the first time this year. It really is amazing and aw inspiring. I love that you can go back again too with a yearly ticket which is the same price as a day ticket I think?

  18. Nell (the Pigeon Pair and Me)

    Oh dear – poor old Mum and Dad, taking a while to assemble the rocket! Well done on doing it in under a minute. This sounds like a good place for families to learn lots about space. We love interactive displays – sounds as though there were quite a few here.

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