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A First Look At The Science Museum's New Interactive Playground

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 8 months ago
A First Look At The Science Museum's New Interactive Playground
Live chemistry demonstrations will be part of Wonderlab. Copyright Plastiques Photography.

We've all got fond childhood memories of the Science Museum's Launchpad. Now it's had a £6m upgrade — so it's time to meet its bigger, flashier successor: Wonderlab.

Prepare for the noise and one million volts of the Tesla coil.

Highlights include an extremely noisy Tesla coil that generates a million volts, slides made from different materials to demonstrate friction, a particulate-filled room where light beams create shapes, and an orrery with glowing sun and star constellations.

Old Launchpad favourites have been given a make over too, including the magnetic discs which can be used to create metal sculptures, and the blocks with which you can build an arched bridge, capable of holding the heaviest person.

Test out friction with three different types of slides. Copyright Plastiques Photography.

We particularly liked some of the smaller exhibits that were grabbing the attention of adults. A particle detector constantly signals whether muons, electrons or alpha particles have been detected locally; we have to admit to a mini nerdgasm over that one.

We're also impressed by a water fountain, with a clever take on the prisoner's dilemma. Two people choose whether to offer the person opposite a sip of water or to be sprayed in the face.  

The space area is aglow with a sun and a host of stars overhead. The floor even rotates slowly, a nice touch. Copyright Plastiques Photography.

There will be regular live demonstrations across the seven zones and there's an adjacent auditorium, which can hold 120 people, for further talks and demos.

This is money well spent, to the point that we can now understand why there needs to be an admission charge. It will remain free to certain school trips which will allow over 200,000 young people a year to experience Wonderlab without charge.

Beams of light appear solid in this dark room.

Judging by how much fun the first group of schoolchildren were having, we reckon Wonderlab will be a big hit.

Wonderlab is now open at Science Museum. Tickets are £8 for adults, £6 for children and £22.50 for a family of four. Annual passes allowing for repeat entry are £14, £10 and £39 respectively.

Last Updated 12 October 2016