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Magna ( Science Adventure Centre)

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      16.04.2012 17:18
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      A good place to kill a few hours with kids.

      Living in Rotherham, I am amazed we have not properly visited this museum of Science before our visit last Friday, especially with my old job of being a science teacher. It has never been top of my list of places to try, but last week when we wanted to take the kids out for the day during half term, we decided as the weather was a bit iffy, to head to Magna as it is fairly close to home, and a visit takes most families around 4 hours according to their website.

      The site is a former steel mill, which was given a large amount of lottery funding to turn the site into an interactive science museum. I had been to the site once before to attend a special event for year ten students for science week, but that had been all taking part in the big hall so I was unsure what the rest of the exhibition would be like.

      My husband had also put sound and lighting equipment into the venue for a corporate event, so he said it was quite a big site, and I should dress the kids warmly as it is cold in the building. This is something I heeded, and my kids had hats and gloves on at points during our visit. I wish I had taken my own gloves too.

      We drove to the site which is located fairly close to Junction 34 of the M1, which is in the same general area as the Meadowhall retail site. The address is Sheffield Road, Rotherham, S60 1DX.

      There is a large free car park availble. We found it easy to get a space as we were there in time for opening at 10am on a school holiday. I don't know what this would be like on a busier day. We found a lot of people had the same idea as us to visit on that day, so the queue to get in was fairly large, but there were 3 cashiers taking people's entrance money, two members of staff putting on wristbands at the entrance, and a further 2 members of staff walking along the queue handing out forms. As this was our first visit, we were given a form to fill in and get stamped which will allow us unlimited entry to Magna for the next 12 months. This made the £36 I paid for a family ticket seem much better value.

      Because it was school holidays, they were also running a special workshop which was a show about kitchen science. We opted to pay an extra £1 per child to attend this, and I would say if you get chance to attend when this show is in, definitely go, as my two children really enjoyed watching the fun demonstrations of experiments, and it was an hour well spent.

      Walking into the venue, we went up some stairs into the main venue. There was still a lot of equipment left from the days of this being a steelworks. This bit of the building was really quite dark, but there were some interactive displays and large flashlights which all the children seemed to enjoy pointing at the cranes and machinery on show. You can seperately have a steel tour by a member of staff, but we didn't sign up for this. You can also watch a show about the making of steel on the hour, but we didn't seem to catch it right to watch this on this particular visit with attending the kitchen workshop.

      The venue is then divided into 4 areas: air, earth, water and fire. To access these areas, you need to move between the 3 floors on site, which you can do via lifts or stairs. We did a bit of both as it was a busy day with lots of buggies, but by the end of the day my knees were struggling with the hard metal stairs, so we had to queue for the 3 lifts. To get into these areas from the steelworks you walk through an interesting room which has electrical wires everywhere, and you can hear the buzz and see the sparks. Not my favourite bit I have to say.

      A nice little display before we went into the areas was a hot air balloon. You could heat the air in the balloon then see if you could make it rise in the air when you released it. We failed to make it hit the ceiling, but we enjoyed trying.

      Earth was the area we probably spent most time in. This was in the basement, and looked at the mining of materials needed for steel production. This was a lot of fun for the kids, with a simulation of an explosion, three large diggers with mechanical arms digging in ball pits for the bigger kids, and wheel barrows and foam its of stone for the smaller ones. There was a variety of machinery and pullies the kids could have a little play with, and a sandpit with mini diggers. The kids would have spent ages in this bit, and enjoyed crawling along in the little coal tunnel and shouting down into a pit to hear an echo. To them it didn't mean a lot at this age though, as they are too young aged 3 and 5 to read all the information that was available, and it was just a chance to play to them. I liked the workers rest room which was equipped with books and seats, so you could spend some time here with a little one and read a story, or let them choose one to be read aloud by pressing a button. There was also a selection of workers hard hats which were in short supply as it was a busy day.

      We tackled fire next. The centre piece to this room was a real fire tornado. Every 5 minutes this would go off and it really was a site to see, though the fuel that was burning did make this room have a unique aroma. Here, there were also some little science experiments that they could do like heating wires up with electricity to make a face, seeing parts of a 4 stroke engine in action, feeling different materials to see if they felt different temperatures, alongside some fire fighter dressing up clothes. We stayed here about 20 minutes, as it was quite hard to explain to younger kids what they were seeing and doing, and I am afraid once they had seen the fire cyclone a couple of times they were getting restless in here.

      We moved onto the water area. This is a really nice place with lots of interactive water displays. We found both kids dived straight in and ended up with wet sleeves. Not ideal when the rest of the venue is freezing cold, but plenty to fiddle with. They particularly liked a section to one end of the area which had a big tank with lots of activities round like trying to make waves to turn on a light in a lighthouse using the tidal power, or using different methods to move water up hill. There were some cannons you could fire at the wall, which they were desperate to play with but didn't get chance to. Older kids would get more out of the other displays that looked at things like how much water you might need to make a pair of denim jeans, and a fish computer game trying to avoid being got by the predators in the water.

      The final area we also only spent about 20 minutes in as it was very noisy and my eldest child has always been a bit funny about loud noisy places and he asked to leave. Here, you walked inside what looked like a big air ship. and there was a 15 minute cycle of different wind strengths and volumes at the entrance. You then walked through where there were displays like an air cannon you could fire at metal pieces to watch the air waves ripple over them, a selection of air pipes where you pressed a button and it sent air over bottles of different sizes which then made different notes. The best bit here for my son was seeing a continuous air tornado whirling in a tube in the centre of the room. The other displays were also interactive, but I can't really describe them as we left.

      On site, toilets were located on every level. There was a restaurant inside the steelworks area which was not that busy when we were there, but you could get a cuppa and a light meal if you wanted. There is also a large room behind the cashiers desk where you can take your own packed lunch and sit to eat it.

      There is also a gift shop on site which sells the usual sort of stuff you can get at this sort of place like posters, and science type gifts. I bought some posters from here when I went with kids many years ago to display in my classroom, which were the solar system and the water cycle.

      I found we covered the indoors areas in about 3 and a half hours, one hour of which we spent in the science show, and this was more than adequate with young children. Personally speaking, I found walking inbetween the dark and light really set me off with a bad headache, so I was ready to leave by then.

      We then spent about another hour outside, as Magna has one of the best playparks I have ever seen outside. You can go to the site and pay just to use this. The play park has different activities to climb on which would cover from little toddlers to around 12 I would say. The area has a few picnic benches round the outside, but it is huge, so we ended up walking round with our two so we could see where they were and this was on a not too busy day. I imagine in the summer it would get even more busy.

      The site also has an outdoor water play park, with fountains and cannons. I might be a spoilsport, but I wouldn't let my two run around in there and get soaked on the day we went as it was only April and not warm enough in my opinion, but there were some adults and children running around in there having a lot of fun.

      I think next time I will remember to pack some towels and spare clothes and let them really go for it.

      Overall, the site tries to cater for children of a wide age range, and it sometimes felt like it worked better than other times. The water and earth areas were superior to me at doing this. I think the fact that you pay once and can go back as much as you want over 12 months is absolutely brilliant, and it is the sort of place that is quite big as a whole, but each part feels small enough that your kids can play without being right next to you at all points. Within reason, we let our two have freedom to explore and play. The kids did have a lot of fun while there, but I don't think they really got the most out of it at the young ages they are. Optimum age is probably 8-10 years old.

      I personally found it hard going walking around the stairs in the cold, and I noticed that when we first went in, it was not well sign posted how to get to the lifts even though they had several for use.

      Staff we saw were all friendly and just let you get on as you wanted. If you approached them to ask a question, they were helpful, and you felt like you had a lot of freedom to tackle the site as you chose fit.

      I am pretty sure we will take advantage of the annual pass even if we only go back to use the fantastic playpark.

      Some bits are very worth a visit, others were less interesting, and it is a great indoor day out on a wet day providing you take a coat.

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      • More +
        26.02.2009 21:36
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        Bring your coat and have a great different day out at Magna

        Magna at Rotherham, near Sheffield, is a visitor attraction set inside a former steelworks.

        The scale of the place is quite breathtaking: it's absolutely huge, and a lot of it is open-plan. The design and layout is excellent, as they have retained the original feel of the steelworks, then layered the modern 'visitor centre' design over that: There are multiple walkways around the place at all different levels, and the 4 main different zones are colour-coded:

        Air, Earth, Fire and Water

        The Air section contains a giant translucent airship, which you go inside and it's filled with scientific puzzles and interactive games.

        The high point for us was the Fire section , An attraction called the Fire Tornado: Just stunning to look at, and also in the Fire section, there was a reproduction of an old Blacksmith's Forge where the Blacksmith would make you something to take home: We have a cast iron 'heart' shape as a souvenir.

        Earth and Water are also filled with fun for the children - everything at Magna is hands-on, which is great because you don't have to spend all day saying 'stop it', 'don't touch that' and 'oh no, you will break it!' :)

        At the back of the building, there remains an original steel forge: Once an hour, it cranks into life, complete with light show, and you can stand on a footbridge overlooking it and imagine how it once would have been: It's quite something, although younger or sensitive children might find it a bit scary , as it's very , very loud.

        Magna is very geared towards school visits, and has an education area set aside for this. Also, because of it's proximity to the M1, it's suitable for school trips and visitors from all around the country, not just local people.

        We have visited Magna as a family, and the children have also been there on a school trip, and parents and teachers alike have recommended it.

        There is a brilliant adventure playground for children, across the road from the main building - it's easy to forget to use it, and only remember it when you come out at the end of the day! This is in two part, Sci-Tek and Aqua-Tek, and as the names suggest, one is a high-tech playground and the other is a playground where they get wet!

        In the main entrance/exit area, there is a gift shop and cafe, and there is also a larger cafe elsewhere inside the building on another level. The food is the usual visitor attraction fare (chips, sandwiches, baked potatoes etc) and the prices are average, as they are in the gift shop.

        Access for disabled visitors may be limited due to the nature of the building: Magna have adapted this as best they can, installing lifts and ramps where possible, but due to it being a converted steelworks inside a vast 'hangar' type building, there are a lot of stairs (and they are those open-back stairs too, which I don't much like!)

        Also, it's very dark in there for some reason, so visibility is limited somewhat by that. The darkness does heighten some of the dramatic effect, which does add to the experience , but at the same time makes it harder to move around.

        Prices are reasonable, at around £25.00 for a family ticket, although we got in using Tesco Deals vouchers - bonus points from me for anywhere that accepts them!

        One more thing: take your coat, because it's really cold in there.

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        03.10.2008 17:06
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        A place to go anytime

        My view on Magna is that it is an excellent attraction keeping the heritage of the area whilst providing new interactive exhibits for everyone. I especially like the idea that children can get involve with the exhibits and have fun but also learn at the same time. The place is quite amazing and it seems to provide something for all ages, whether you are interested in the history of the place and the steel works or if you just want to play with some science exhibits. The outdoor play area is actually amazing; I wish I was young again. Very impressive place.

        Excellent value for money, we were there all day long and are looking to sign up to their membership scheme beacsue of the exsdtensive list of changing activities.

        Do wear a coat as this place can be slightly cold. This place is huge and well worth a trip.

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          08.07.2008 20:50
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          Very disappointing attraction that promised much yet delivered nothing

          Magna Science Adventure Centre
          Sheffield Road
          Templeborough
          Rotherham
          S60 1DX
          South Yorkshire
          England

          150 foot high and a third of a mile long, the £46m Lottery funded Millennium Commission project, Magna is the UK's first Science Adventure Centre.

          I visited recently but is it any good ?

          OPENING TIMES

          Magna is open daily from 10am to 5pm.

          CONTACT DETAILS

          General information (Tel) : 01709 720002
          General information (Fax) : 01709 820092
          E-mail : info@magnatrust.co.uk
          Website : www.visitmagna.co.uk
          ADMISSION
          Adults £9.95 / £9.00 (Peak/ off peak)
          Children/ Concessions £7.95 / £7.00
          Family of 3 £25.00
          DESCRIPTION
          Magna consists of six different parts. Four of them are pavilions based on the four themes 'Earth' 'Fire' 'Water' and 'Air'. The other two are multimedia shows based on Magna's roots - 'Steel'. Each of the six parts are connected together using modern archictecture - suspended walkways, scissor lifts, stairs and tunnels.
          Each of the four pavilions is packed with challenges, displays and games. For instance in 'Earth' you can use a mini JCB to move balls. In 'Water' you can see how water power can be utilised. In 'Air' you can see how a Dyson hoover works and in 'Fire' you can see how you can shape steel.
          One of the multimedia shows lies at the heart of the magna building and is called 'The Big Melt'. It is noisy and loud, mainly because it explains how steel is made. The huge furnace tells the story in itself.
          The other multimedia show is a light and sound show 'Face of Steel' telling the story behind Templeborough steelworks and the men behind it. The images are broadcast on hundreds of screens near the entrance.
          OTHER INFORMATION
          Special Needs
          The attraction and all its facilities are accessible to visitors who use wheelchairs. Visitors with special needs may wish to phone in advance to discuss their requirements.
          Food
          The Fuel Restaurant is open from 12pm to 3pm on weekends and during school holiday periods. It serves a wide range of hot and cold dishes. The Magna Cafe is open daily from 10am to 5pm serving a range of hot and cold drinks, snacks and light meals.
          Magna Store
          The Magna Store sells a unique range of souvenirs, gifts, toys, books and steelware. The store is open to anyone visiting the Magna site.
          Outdoors at Magna
          Sci-Tek and Aqua-Tek make up a very large playground area. You can purchase a ticket or annual pass for just the outdoor facilities. Adults are free with an accompanying child! Entry to Sci-Tek and Aqua-Tek are automatically included if you buy a ticket for entry into the Magna science centre. There are also toilets and a refreshment kiosk situated in the playground. The playground is accessible to everyone. Aqua-Tek is open Easter to October.
          THE VERDICT
          Lets not beat about the bush, the place is a huge disappointment. First of all the place is freezing cold - is this even allowed ? We visited on a cold winters day BUT it was warmer outside than in !! Fundamental flaw. I posted 'purchase some heaters' in the suggestion box. Whether is has an effect I don't know. Secondly not everything was working. The multimedia light and sound show was under repair. The five foot flame exhibition in the 'Fire' pavilion was broken. Two out of three mini JCB's in the 'Earth' pavilion were broken. Quite a lot of the exhibitions in 'Air' were not working or faulty. Do you detect a pattern ? Yes quite a lot is broken.
          Lets move onto safety. The place is dimly lit therefore is a safety hazard. I'm surprised health and safety havn't shut the place down. We had to walk up some stairs in darkness and my nan tripped, grazing her knee.
          The multimedia show 'The Big Melt' is very noisy and is unsuitable for young children. It terrified my young lad and someone elses. The molten steel pyrotechnics jetting into the air are impressive I grant them but probably not the wisest idea.
          Onto admission prices - it's frankly a rip-off for what's included.
          All in all, I found the place terrible value for money, lacking in interests and at best two hours entertainment.
          Magna cost £46 million pounds - its going to cost more to bring upto what I would consider a Science Centre worth visiting.
          I cannot stress how bad an attraction this is.

          WormThatTurned2008

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            08.04.2002 01:54
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            • Dark/Cold

            Magna is a Science Museum situated in Rotherham in old steel foundries, its reasonably close to Meadowhall but I recommend a car to get there as it actually fairly out of the way and beyond regular walking distance from there. I went as a guest as a friend of mine works there as part of one of the exhibitions they are currently running, the Living Robots. Now this opinion is my personal experience and not necessarily that of others (obviously), we didn't get all the way round, partly because it's so big and also because of what happened with my daughter (see below). On arrival you go through the red hall entrance (many red lights!) where there is the shop, and cafe. There are four main areas, named Fire, Air, Earth and Water. The first sub-area to come across once you exit the entrance area is the "Face Of Steel" which has evocative, eerie noises and sounds of the work that went on when the foundry was bustling, displayed on huge TV screens, showing the life and times of those who worked there. I had with me my 5-year-old daughter and my Mother. We promptly moved on to the main walkway up some steps, which really gives an idea of the massiveness of this place-its absolutely huge. It's also very dark in 95% of the museum so beware! We walked down the walkway and came to the end of it, along the way we could see what looked like an airship up above and to the right of us, this is the "Air" area. Below and to the left is the ground level and water area. We turned right into the only room available (I think its called "Transformer house", if you go through it you can then get to the fire area.) And this was where our problems began. This "room" had various lifts leading to the different floors/area, and a doorway leading to the fire area. The room makes alarmingly loud crackly electric noises and lights spark at the sides, which scared my Mother and Aimee, (my daughter) to de
            ath! My Mother was ok but Aimee was, unusually for her, very upset and became tearful, she wanted to leave and get out of there as quickly as possible. The problem was that you have to stay in there just to see where you want to go next, looking at the arrows to see whether you want to go up or down, this would be made worse by having to wait to get in one of the lifts which would happen if busy which it was when we were there (Sunday). I carried my daughter through to the other end, which led down a passageway to the fire area. We came back as she was still upset, and didn't want to go to the fire area. All the time I had tried to console and reassure her and say that it was just pretend and there was nothing to be afraid of but you just know when a child does really not like something then its best to avoid. So we went back through and downstairs to the main area again, where we bought her a bouncy ball with the morph character inside and a crystal, which she was happy with with, the shop looked to have some good toys, inclduing baloon powered cars and boats and a selection of the Robot Wars Robots Miniatures. But, even so, she still did not want to go back in! Eventually we assured her and we went back upstairs via a lift to the walkway, which we again went down towards the "scary room" with the lifts. We managed to get in a lift and down to the water section. This was highly entertaining and informative and Aimee perked up after a while in there. So much to do, from shooting large stationary water guns at wooden discs with pictures of fish/whales on, which rotate at speed when you shoot them, great fun and just the tonic for Aimee. Other notables included a computer game where you have to guide a salmon through the river at different points in our history-span, avoiding pollution, chemicals etc. Also a miniature Canal/locks/canal boat set-up where you can open the gates and get the boat to rise higher, exc
            ellent stuff, and a wave maker which you can move to make a light come on in a mini lighthouse- great hands-on activity.It's worth putting on one of the overalls, which are situated at the entrance of this area, as we did get a little wet! There are also towels at the exit to dry down, a good idea. After this we went to the air area but came out when we realised it was time to see the Living Robot show, a "spectacular show" featuring the Predator and Prey Robots, stunning special effects and a lively commentary- a world-first experiment into artificial evolution where the Living Robots have one goal - to obtain enough energy to survive and breed. The prey find their food from light sensors within the arena, while the predators feed off prey by stalking and chasing them before sucking away their power. We went to queue up on the ground floor at around 12.05, which I felt was far too early (show didnt start until 12.30) and didn't want Aimee to be standing up for that long in a cold, dark area. She again became agitated; it's really due to the eerie sounds emanating from all round, the darkness, and the cold. Fine for adults but obviously not for some children. They do advise you to wear warm clothing, as the main building is not heated as its too big, although certain sections are heated. Aimee was reasonably dressed but I knew then that we would not be seeing the Robot show which I had been advised would be well worth the wait. She then needed the loo so we went back to the main area and when we got back a few minutes later the queue was very long. Aimee wanted to go out to the playground anyway now and I felt this was what we both needed. I wasn't particularly bothered now as I was anxious to make sure she enjoyed herself while there. We went outside and we stayed there for 2hours!! The adventure playground is THE best playground of any sort I have ever seen-absolutely brilliant, loads of stuff to do, from sw
            ings to large rope climbing frames, to a "pulley" (remember the one on the Krypton factor or when you see army training?? its like that!). There's a large sand area with stationary "diggers" which can be rotated round in a circle and used to dig-excellent for children, it makes them think about what they are doing. There was a unique roundabout that the kids can lie down on to hold onto with their arms and legs, hard to explain but very safe and fun. Too much to remember! There are seating areas with tables at the side so you can sit down to eat and have a drink. There is a drinks/ice cream kiosk there also. Aimee was in her element here and it really made her day to play here, she forgot about before. We popped back in to get a banana Milk drink and a chocolate Cookie for Aimee that came to £2.17-Prohibitive. So we stayed there until time to go. We didn't see the Air, Fire or Earth section or the robot show but still ended up having a great time. Most telling was a lady doing a questionnaire on the museum, what people think about it and suggestions for improvements. When I told her what had happened with Aimee she agreed with me straight away and said that there had been quite a few others including her 8 year old Granddaughter who had been also frightened by the same thing as my daughter. She agreed with me that there should be a warning outside the "Transformer" room down the main walkway as it was scaring some children, and that an alternate route to get to the areas should be in place. So to sum up, a very good, possibly future great museum, I will go back for sure to see it all. Water section was great, other sections unknown as didn't visit apart from the face of steel, which was average in my view. Food was expensive, not the easiest place to find one's way around, signposting could/should be brighter/clearer, there appears to be only one initial way to get to all the areas and tha
            t's through the main walkway, there may be others but its not clear at all, and I'm used to traipsing round the Royal Armouries which is big. The good thing about all this is that they care about your opinions so hopefully will put into place some of the suggested changes mentioned above. But what a fantastic play area, and a place I would come back to for just that, on a hot summers day, take some cold drinks and a picnic and it will be great, children will love that. Hopefully Aimee will one day go back inside the whole museum but until then we will try and avoid those areas that scared her, (and others, according to the guide who interviewed me outside, who was genuinely understanding). I would recommend a visit to anyone, despite my daughters experience, although just beware of the above mentioned if taking children. Entertaining, informative, fun, dark, and BIG! Find them online at www.magnatrust.org.uk

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            • More +
              24.05.2001 05:25
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              Have you ever been to an educational centre for children and really enjoyed yourself? Have you come away with some useful information which you had never known before? Did you ever go to an educational centre and your kids got bored because you wouldn't let them have a go in the interactive stuff? Well Magna is one of those places. Magna opened in April 2001 and is based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Its easy to get to from the M1 motorway. Just take Junction 33 if you are travelling from the south or Junction 34 if you are travelling from the north. Just follow the signs "Magna" through to Templeborough where one of the biggest steel works which produced most of the steel for England and the most productive steel works in the world.. If you are travelling by train, you get of at either Sheffield or Rotherham station and you can either get a Taxi, or catch the 69 bus which runs from Rotherham to Sheffield every 15 mins. I was lucky enough to get there by coach organised by our local Women's group but as I live in Rotherham, its 20 mins away from me by car. As our co-ordinator arranged this visit with our local college ( Dearne Valley) as part of the Adults Learning Week, we didn't have to pay to get in but although the prices might seem a little steep, its worth very worth while. Adults .....£5.99 Individual or £10.99 for a annual pass Child (over 4 yrs) ...£4.50 Individual or £7.99 for a annual pass Family ...£17.99 Individual or £32.99 for an annual pass ( 2 adults and upto 3 children ) Tour organisers or teachers ..free I can promise you, if you go you'll need a full day there, and you can always go there more than once and still find something new. Even if you by an individual pass and decide on that day you would like to have an annual pass, Magna will take the amount off what you paid already from the annual ticket price. Which I feel is excellent. I've never
              known a place to do something like that. I'm off down there again after the half term to get a annual ticket for my daughter and myself, as we all enjoyed it so much. So whats at Magna that is so great. Magna was a Millennium project and after two years of intense planning, Rotherham council was ready to roll. Templeborough Steel works have been empty since the early 1980s, but after 20 years it is now one of the best attractions in the north of England. Within Magna there are 4 pavilions named after the 4 elements, Air, Earth, Fire and Water. Within these pavilions are the best interactive exhibits which will have your mind bulging with glee. With this they have still kept most of the steel works intact so you can have a look around the first part called The Big Melt. The Big Melt is a light and sound show which occurs on the hour to tell you the history of the Templeborough Steel Works. With brilliant effects you can really feel what it was like to work in, what must seem like, the hardest work in the world. Of course they could never actually turn on the arc furnaces but they do project special effects on all the equipment, will explaining what happens to make molten steel. These special effects consist of a light show, and a running commentary on what happened, how steel was made, and other very interesting facts about the steel industry. These shows are repeated throughtout the day, every hour, on the hour. So if you miss one show, you can always catch another THE FIRE PAVILION How can you control a fire and make it into a Tormado? How do you shape steel? Why does the Lava in Lava lamps float and sink? How long does steel last and how strong is it? All will be revealed in the Fire Pavilion. This section of the Magna centre deals with electricity, fire and how we get steel from the mines. The central attraction is the Fire Tornado. Jess wasn't too keen on this, but after I persua
              ded her with sweets, we watched as a small flame licked at the base of the attraction. Basically there is a small pad at the base soaked in kerosene. There is a electric spark which lights and the pad sets a light making a small fire. There is a set of fans overhead which causes a movement of air similar to a tornado. This effect is spectacular. You are about 15 feet away and separated by a barrier, but you can still feel the heat coming off the fire. This was just amazing to watch and its set off through a timer every 15 mins. Also in this pavilion there are smaller exhibits like electro magnetic cranes which you can use to pick up and drop used cans, a simulation of the power of electric arc furnace, melting steel with high voltage electricity.There is even a small talk by a Magna collegue, who talks you through where the metal came from to make steel,and how you can bend and shape it into anything you wish. This was the first section we visited and I was very impressed. There is loads to do and so much information you can pick up. Although Jess was only 3 yrs old, she was still full of questions and had ago at the electro magnetic cranes and saw how the mini workshop by a member of Magna melted steel, and twisted it into funny shapes. AIR PAVILION What does it feel to fly like a bird? How are clouds formed? How Does a Dyson Hoover work? What is air and how is it useful to us? We all need air to breathe but we never see it in its true form, just the effects. Here in the Air section, which is set up in an air ship, you can have a go on exhibits which allow you to see what its like to fly like a bird. You can also see a 5 metre tornado made from a mist of smoke. This is not as amazing as the Fire one but its still fascinating to watch. They also have a rather cool exhibit where you walk across a simulated bridge while watching a projection infront of you. This projection is a steel bridge swaying in very high winds.
              If you enjoy being drunk and wobbling about then this is for you. Its a bit scary really, just knowing that the forces of nature can tear down a bridge like that. Then there is the air that everyone is embarrassed about, yes its the bodily functions of passing wind..top and bottom end. This exhibit consists of trumpets that have a rubber ball at that end. If you squeeze each one, you hear a particular noise and an explanation on what the noise was and why the body makes such a noise. Jess found this very funny but Ill let you guess which ones she giggled at the most. With the effects of lighting and sounds this section was fascinating. Thunder rumbling about as storm clouds moved about. Both Jess and my other daughter Lucy was fascinated by everything they saw. Lucy who's is nearly a year was supposed to be taking a nap, but was too nosy to go to sleep, she proceeded to giggle her little head off at Jess who was making music by making the wind pipes play a tune. EARTH PAVILION Why were children used in the mines? Whats is like to operate a JCB jigger? What are pulley's and how do they work? Why are cogs so important ? This section is for the children or adults who can get to grips with mechanism most quickly. There is a sand pit with toy trucks and diggers in which children can play with. A real sized JCB, in which you can sit an operate and trying to pour as much rock into the baskets at the side. Numerous exhibits explaining about pulley's, cogs and why they are so important in the pits. There is even a "Rest hut", in which younger children can play with small scale toys, books and hear stories of the best builder in town ..Yes its Bob the builder. We didn't stay in this section very long. All Jess wanted to do was have a go on the JCB and then go into the Rest hut to play. She needed a well earned rest but I think she wasn't a building type. I had fun pulling all t
              he levers and guessing which combination of cogs and pulley's worked. To be young again......eh? WATER PAVILION How much water do you use a day? What is the cycle of water? How do you make waves? This was the last section we visited but definitely the best. As you can guess this section has to do with water and you can get wet, so take a change of tops or trousers with you if you can...just in case. There is lots of fun stuff here to do and as you can guess, we spent ages in this section. There is a water shoot out where you can hit targets with a water piston. Jess loved this but thankfully the water piston was fixed and only rotated to one end of the target range to the other. Or otherwise we all would of been drenched. Also there was an interesting model of the water cycle, where there was a sprinkle of water like rain from the clouds, which fell onto mountains, made rivers and ran down to the sea. Then because of evaporation went upto the atmosphere to produce clouds. This was good for Jess and we sat for about 10 mins explaining about rain, water and answering questions. At this age of 3 and up, children are like sponges. The other thing which Jess found intriguing was a large circular turning beach with taps which let out water, fast or slow. This exhibit represented how a beach moves with different tides and how you can get stream form where water runs back from the sea at low tide. Saying that she was more into messing with the sand and stones than the water..bless her. I had a go at " How much water do you use". This exhibit asks you numerous questions about how many showers, baths, cup of teas, flushes of toilets and other water consuming occupations we have and then fills up a gigantic tub next to you telling you how much water in litres you have used so far that day. Well I was shocked considering I only had one cuppa, a few visits to the toilet and a I had used enough water to fill a
              bath! I think both my daughters and myself enjoyed this section the most, mainly because its always fun playing with water. Just make sure you are prepared to get just a little wet so it might be a good idea just to take a spare change of trousers and top...just incase. What else is at Magna? Well if you think you have had enough of the education and you just want your kids to go and play..try the outside playground, its out of this world. We only had a limited time at Magna which was from 10 am till 1 pm, so we didn't have very long on the playground at all. I can say its one of the most impressive playground I have ever seen. It has a under 5 section and an over 5 section, all with soft landing tarmac. You have climbing frames built in shapes of spaceships, swings, slides, a skip pad, you can even experience the sensation of skating and surfing! This is brilliant as you can pay £1 and take them here or you can go into Magna and its included in the price. This means you can take them at any stage of your day out and believe me it will be a fantastic day out. Its a great way for them to have a break, and get rid of that energy in a safe but exciting environment. Under 5s play area This soft play area which is situated in the main reception area of magna again is a great idea. It doesn't matter how good a place is, some children do need a break. You can take them into this soft play area which has climbing frames, things to do, and a ball pool. You can have 10 mins well earned rest before setting off on your exploration into the Magna centre again. Gift shop The Magna store is open plane so you can have a wonder in and have a look. It sells books, toys, CD roms,as well as stainless steel home wear and gifts. All the books and CD roms are educational, and explore in even more detail about our earth. Restaurant The O2 is the only inflatable re
              staurant in the UK which sell cooked meals, snacks and drinks. Unfortunately I never had time to have a look but from the outside it looks very impressive. Private hire After reading that you can hold childrens parties hire, I have an idea for Jess's 4th birthday party. You can hire one of the 4 pavilion for childrens parties, corporate events, dinners or parties. Just call 01709 720002 or ask for an information pack. I have a leaflet about the children parties an for £6.99 you get Unlimited play in Magna Adventure Centre, Games and activities with a member of Magna crew, Unlimited play on the outdoor playground area, a party lunch or tea and finally a goody bag for each child. I would seriously consider this as a good way of entertaining a party of children. The average party at home costs well over £70 if you by food, prizes for games, maybe hire a video. So having a party at Magna is a great idea for children over 4. General Accessibility. If you have a young child still in a pushchair or a person in a wheel chair you can still go to Magna and still have a brilliant time. My youngest is in a pushchair and I found it easy to get around. They have one lift upto the main level and then 4 separate lifts taking you to anywhere you need to go. You can even hire a pushchair FREE from reception if you find that its too much walking for your toddler or young child. There are toilet facilities on all levels, disabled toilets have baby changing tables too. So can you guess who had more fun today? This really is a brilliant day out for all the family. Like Ive stated at the beginning of this opinion I'm off down there in a few weeks to get annual pass. Even if you go three times within that year its still cheaper than buying individual passes. Magna is open every day from 10 am till 5 pm and only close on Christmas day and boxing day. Just be warmed try and go when the kids are at school. Appare
              ntly that the weekends and school holidays are very busy from what I heard from the last school holidays. Still, whenever you go, just get there and I promise you wont be disappointed. And bet you you'll have a better time then your children :-) If you want to know more about Magna visit www.magnatrust.org.uk

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