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.
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.
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.
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!
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.