We bought a year’s membership to the Wonderlab at London’s Science Museum which means we have been a few times so I thought I should write something about the experience. (Just to clarify this is not an ad I purchased our tickets).
I need to start by saying the Science Museum has never been a favourite with my daughter, she finds the downstairs section very overwhelming so we have tried to do it in small visits. But after we the success of our outing to the Science Centre in Winchester I decided to buy tickets for the wonderlab and just hope for the best. Straight up the first two visits were stressful for her. The Wonderlab is busy – lots of school groups and it is a sensory overload for kids who may be sensory avoiders.
If you think of this from a sensory persons point of view – there is a LOT of visual stimulation, and the noise is constant – noise of the experiments, bangs from some experiments, the constant hum and bustle of kids – it is noisy and there is also a big tactile element – it is very hands-on so they kids are always touching stuff and when it gets busy there are lots of kids pushing past, sitting or standing way to close. So from a sensory side there is just a LOT going on.
So we needed to find quieter times and these tended to be weekdays after lunch time, really the later the better (when the school groups have left). I also found quieter areas within the wonderlab itself – there is a shape building area using polydron framework shapes (which was really amazing) near the toilets and some benches near the chemistry bar.
After a few visist my daughter started to enjoy the experience more and for her the biggest winner has to be their chemistry bar. We have been a few times and have had different explainers do the presentations so they are never exactly the same. For us the chemistry bar is even better when you go later in the afternoon. Yesterday we went to a session where there were only 3 kids (2 of which were mine) and the explainer really involved the kids and ended up going on for longer because the kids were so interested.
She also really likes the Explainers (the staff), who walk around. I have always found them brilliant with the kids, ready to help but at the same time they don’t feed the kids the answers they get the kids to work out solutions. And when it gets even quieter in the afternoon they tend to get even more chatter which just means the kids get to ask more and more questions.
I think the Wonderlab at the Science Museum is well worth the cost of the tickets. But if you do have sensory kids I highly recommend trying to time your visit for quieter periods because it is a sensory overloading experience for the kids (also if you do have sensory kids I have found the more we visited the more mine tended to relax as they knew what to expect which meant thay actually end up learning more).