Paused for thought

Paused for thought

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Staycation postcards: Snibston Discovery Museum

This year for various reasons, instead of a holiday away we have chosen to have a family staycation, making various day trips whilst remaining at home over the course of a week. We have chosen a variety of locations for these trips to maximise the fun that we can have as a family. The first of these was Snibston Discovery Museum in Coalville.

Under current UK government policy, one action point is to engage the public in science and engineering by encouraging science in schools and inspiring students to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects*. It therefore seems rather short-sighted for a council to close a wonderful and engaging facility such as the one that we found at Snibston, which closes on Friday (31st July 2015) due to budget cuts. There is particular thought that to truly engage students and encourage and promote STEM subjects to them, their imagination needs to be captured at a primary school age which we felt the facility at Snibston did remarkably well.

When we entered, our children (aged 4, 2 and 0) were instantly engaged by the interactive displays which were thoughtfully presented and accessible for all ages. There was a small Mini which they could lift using an electromagnet, a pretend fire with a twizzle stick designed to simulate a spark and bellows to provide air to keep the fire going. There was an area to build a drainage system and an entire section devoted to exploring electricity including its generation and how it helps to power different things from a light bulb to gears. There was a tornado simulator to demonstrate how the air current can be interrupted but join together again. Air pressure experiments were presented in different ways tapping into different interests and engaging different minds. In my career as a Human Resources professional I was keenly interested in different learning styles and now, as a mother, my interest in this subject has continued and grown and transferred onto watching how our sons explore the world around them. This need to attract different minds and different learning styles was superbly met by the museum.

Walking on from the science area was a static display of multiple vehicles which crossed different eras. I was delighted to see a Sinclair C5 and show it to my sons, reminiscing about my childhood. A milk float raised further interesting conversations, as did a model spitfire. The construction vehicles were a big hit with more interactive displays as was an old fire engine.

Outside the play area was well planned out with plenty of space for play for all ages. Our older boys had great fun with outdoor music bars and parabolic dishes, whilst our baby was content to watch the play unfold from the comfort of a baby swing. Water experiments were set up which were entertaining a large group of children who were learning together without having previously known each other. The older ones helping and explaining to younger ones and all of them sharing and exploring together. 

That a museum can offer such a wide variety of hands on activities and capture so many minds in so many ways was something to be proud of. I, my husband, and our boys, will all miss Snibston when it has closed to the public.

* source: UK Government Policy Paper. 2010 to 2015 government policy: public understanding of science and engineering.

I did not receive any compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

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