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At the start of the year, there was a request for a teacher to help organise a school trip for the year 8s. I decided to volunteer, and ended up being put in charge of organising and running the trip (gulp). That was in October. 7 months later, I have not only planned the trip, but have managed to get there and back again with little trouble. So I thought I would tell you of the Year 8 Science Trip to the Space Centre in Leicester.
What is the Space Centre?
Before completing my teacher training, I had never heard of the Space Centre. After narrowly missing out on a trip there, and deciding against the Science Museum, I ended up looking at the Space Centre. As the name suggests, the Space Centre focuses around all things to do with space and space discovery. It is affiliated with Leicester University, which appears to have a lot to do with astronauts and space research. There are a range of exhibitions housed in six galleries, ranging from exhibitions about the planets in our solar system, to a mock-up of a section of the space station (I found the shower in there particularly fascinating). There is a large tower at the front of the Space Centre, which houses two sections of rockets (one of which was used to take mice up to space). These were rather incredible to see, and help you begin to imagine the size of rockets used to take humans up into space. Finally is the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium, 'the UKs largest domed planetarium', a 360 degree space theatre.
What can you do?
There are a variety of shows running at the Planetarium, and I have seen two of them; Astronaut, which is about what it takes to become an astronaut, and We Are Aliens, which is about the possibility of alien life in the universe. I found We Are Aliens more thought provoking, but I feel that Astronaut is more suitable for younger viewers who are less interested in microorganisms and where they can survive. Looking at the website, it seems that you get one show free on your first visit, and then you need to pay for additional shows (not quite sure how that works). Both shows I saw were free, but there was an option to pay for other shows at the cost of 50p per child (not a lot, but when you are taking 110 pupils, it does get expensive!). But it was absolutely amazing viewing the films in the Planetarium, and kept my year 8s quiet for 20 minutes (give or take the odd 'wow'). During a pre-visit we even captivated the attention of a 3 year old, although the finer points of We Are Aliens were lost on him slightly.
Around the Space Centre are six galleries as I mentioned. Although they aren't massively separated, they do have archways over the entrance with a title to give you an idea of where you are going. The rockets are at the front of the Space Centre and are accessed by stairs (or a lift) and a walkway. The six sections are as follows:
- Orbiting the Earth, which talks about the satellites in space that help us with our everyday lives;
- Into Space, which is where the Columbus module mock-up of the Space Station is housed, alongside astronauts and their life in space;
- Exploring the Universe, which looks at wormholes, the Big Bang and the science behind searching for extra-terrestrial intelligence;
- The Planets, which is split up into eight sections (no Pluto I'm afraid). You can even drive a Mars rover over the 'surface' of a planet, and see Venus in 3D (no snazzy glasses necessary). Here there is also an under 5s play area available;
- Space Now, which is in area which shows you what is going on in space right now
- Tranquillity Base, which is an activity area requiring the tickets given to you on entry. Here are several activities, including controlling a rock digger, and interactive games. There is also a simulator, which costs an extra £1 per person.
There are a lot of interactive activities, such as sending a person into space (this is a two man job), memory, the mars rover, building a model rocket as quickly as you can, a reaction test and much more. The thing I like most about all these activities was that they all worked. I tried out quite a few, and I guarantee my pupils tried out the rest - they all worked well and most didn't require anything to work, although some needed the ticket. One or two required money (such as the simulator and arcade games), but overall that's not bad. The Tranquillity Base activities and the launching a person into space had the most wait time (or the biggest crowds around them), but the longest we had to wait was about 5 minutes. This must depend on how busy each area is, but there is plenty to keep you busy whilst you wait. The final activity is the Weather Pod; this is where you can be filmed on a green screen giving futuristic weather. If you like your film enough, you can scan your ticket again to upload it onto YouTube. Be warned - this does get shown on screens around the weather pod once you have filmed it!
Aside from the activities, there are a lot of informative displays around the centre. The information presented depends on the section you are in, but the level of detail does vary to allow some younger visits to access the information, whilst allowing older visitors to also enjoy their visit. I learnt a lot of things I hadn't come across before, especially about the astronauts that have been into Space. There was also a timeline in the rocket tower, with events such as the release of Sindy dolls, and Sound of Music, as well as key space travel dates. I loved this and found the events on the display quite interesting (if not a little random). It's a shame I didn't have more time to look at them.
Pre-Visit and Booking
I found booking the trip very simple. There was an option to email or call the Bookings team - I opted for email as I hate the phone. I had to send my school details, the number of pupils going, the date and some details about myself. I got quite a prompt reply, with a booking letter and invoice attached. To confirm the day of the visit, the letter needs to be filled in and returned within two weeks (which I just about managed!). You then receive a welcome pack with some FAQs which I found very helpful, as they answered my questions. The Centre also recommends a pre-visit, which two members of staff can go on free of charge, as long as they have ID. I called to book the pre-visit, which was very simple. All I needed to do was give my name, school address and the day I was visiting. When we got there, we had our badges but not much attention was given to them. We were granted access and were able to look around just as visitors would. It was very helpful to go on, as it allowed me to learn where things like toilets were, and which areas we would like pupils to focus on. I was half-expecting a little guidance, but this wasn't really necessary.
Groups are given big wheelie buckets to store their bags in during the visit (the Centre asked for all bags and coats to be left there). These were then stored in the main eating area, and didn't seem to be locked away, which I found slightly unsafe. All bags and coats were returned though, so the system does work. There is an eating time and area available for your group, which is just off the public area. If you are just visiting, there is a café and small eating area nearby, and a larger eating area under the rockets (I'm not sure how I feel about eating under very large rockets!). The café was quite reasonably priced, with 3 teas, 4 donuts and a juice coming to just under £7 (cheaper than other places I have been to). A shop is also at the Centre, with a variety of items such as model shuttles, play mobile (space themed, of course), space ice cream (which my pupils assured me was very yummy) and Dr Who items. There was much more in the store, including your usual pens and rulers, but far too much to list. It felt slightly pricey, but I think that is usual with gift stores.
There are toilets next to the shop, and behind the weather dome in the centre itself. I do think they could have been signed clearly; even though they had a large male/female sign above them, the ones in the centre were hidden behind a lot of displays and were hard to see. There are a large amount of toilets and sinks in there, which is good for busy periods.
You can go to the café and back into the main centre as much as you need - just make sure you have your tickets, as these allow access into the main centre!
Cost & Times
The cost for our trip was £6.95 + VAT per pupil, and each adult per 10 pupils could enter the Space Centre for free. The cost for a usual visit is £13.00 per adult, and £11.00 for a child between 5 and 16, as well as concessions. Under 5s go free.
There are other activities, such as workshops or school visits, but these were for groups of about 30 pupils and some cost hundreds of pounds, which unfortunately was out of our price range. On the positive side, there was enough for pupils to do and learn without the need for workshops.
Parking is available at the Space Centre, and this costs £2 for the entire day, so make sure you have some change on you (it is a Pay and Display car park).
Tuesday-Friday the centre is open 10am-4pm, whilst Saturday-Sunday and school holidays (stated on their website) the opening times are 10am-5pm.
The Space Centre recommends about 4 hours (including lunch and a Planetarium show) to look around, and I agree. I found that by half 1, the pupils were very restless and had explored the centre and activities, as well as completing a work booklet I printed out. The Space Centre provide the booklets online for you to download, or can print it out at about 9p per page, so it is worth you making copies yourself!
I found the Space Centre overall a really good visit. It was very informative, and I especially liked the fact that every activity available worked (give or take a queue). I think that it perhaps wasn't suitable for such a large group (110 12-13 year olds), and the staff did end up following us around a lot, and limiting where the pupils could go, even though they were behaving very well (give or take 2 or 3 individuals). However, in the two visits I have been there, there were several groups of different ages, including a birthday party, a Brownie group and a toddler group. I'd make sure that the group have the activity booklets provided on the website, as this did focus the group and ensure they paid attention to key parts of the centre. It may be worth printing one off if you go as a family, depending on how fast your child takes in the displays. It is a very informative and enjoyable centre, and I'm very glad I went - as are my year 8s, who all seemed to enjoy their visit!
My youngest daughter is mad about space, so we decided to visit the National Space Centre, which is situated just off the A6, approximately two miles from Leicester city centre. (Buses from Leicester train station to the Space Centre also run frequently.)
On arrival at the National Space Centre, our initial impressions were not good. It looked as if we had just parked up on an old industrial estate. Everything looked a bit drab and grey. Fortunately, things were to improve once we were inside.
There is a snack bar in the foyer near the entrance to the Space Centre. It is very small, self-service area with a limited selection of reasonably priced foods, mainly sandwiches, cakes, crisps and cookies and hot and cold drinks. The only hot food you can get is soup, which is apparently freshly made on the premises each day. It's fine if you just want a light snack to keep you going, but may not suit those with bigger appetites. This is a small area which I imagine could get crowded and a bit chaotic at busier times with long queues at the coffee machine or to pay for your food.
The seating area was a bit drab looking. It felt a bit like eating in a school dining hall, until I looked up and realised that we were actually sitting under a rather impressive model of a rocket. This would have been fine, apart from the fact that every few minutes a very noisy blast-off simulation took place when the rocket would fire up with the most deafening roar. This was so loud that we couldn't hear our conversation over it and wasn't the sort of thing I wanted to put up with when eating my lunch. Younger children seemed to love it though and were jumping around with glee each time the rocket began its count down.
Our first stop was the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium, a 360 degree full dome cinema where we watched a film called 'We are Astronomers.' The somewhat reclining seats and the curved roof of the cinema made you feel completely immersed in what you were watching. It felt a bit like lying back and gazing up at the stars and was quite restful. This was very atmospheric and set the scene for our visit perfectly. The film explored the role of astronomers from past to present and it went into quite a bit of technical detail. Some of it was well beyond the comprehension of me and my other half, although the kids seemed to understand it very well (so much for the 'dumbing down' of GCSE science) and they talked animatedly about the film afterwards. Personally, I would have preferred a film that took me on a tour of the planets than something that went into the detail of how the Hadron Collider worked, but it was still very effective visually. At times I began to feel a bit dizzy and queasy though and I wouldn't have wanted to stay in there for too long.
There are six interactive galleries to explore. It would have been helpful if we'd had some clearer sign posting to tell us in which order we should view things, because we did tend to wander about a bit aimlessly. It didn't matter too much, but sometimes we got a bit confused about which parts we had looked round and which we hadn't.
What impressed me about the galleries was the excellent balance between interactive exhibits and information to be read. It made for an engaging learning experience, which was suited to different ages and abilities. I felt that many of the interactive exhibits helped to make a complex subject more meaningful. For instance, to illustrate the pull of gravity on different planets, you can take the Baked Bean Challenge. By lifting up different baked bean tins you realise that they feel light or heavy depending on which planet they are on. Also, if you dare, you can hop on the scales and find out your weight on a different planet. You are likely to be three times heavier on Jupiter than on earth.
In Tranquillity Base you can become a trainee astronaut on a lunar base in the year 2025. Children have the chance to partake in a number of training challenges, culminating in a ride in a 3D motion simulator to Jupiter's moon, Europa. The simulator was quite good fun, although I imagine on busier days the queues would build up, as only about 15 people can ride the simulator at once. We were lucky as we only had to wait about 5 minutes for our turn. I did find it a rather uncomfortable experience and jarred my lower back a few times as I was jolted around. The landing was extremely bumpy, but I am sure that's probably what it would be like if you tried to land a spacecraft on the icy surface of Europa! I also found the 3D glasses were not the best. They were made of cardboard and mine kept falling off until I bent them into a suitable shape to stay in position.
As children undertake the various astronaut training tests, they scan the barcode on their tickets to record their results. They can then find out if they have made the grade and either print out a certificate or have it emailed to them. The only problem is that it is a bit annoying to keep having to get your ticket out to scan the barcode, but that is just a minor complaint.
In the Orbiting Earth gallery you can find out all about how satellites in space affect our lives and there is a chance to present the weather forecast as you read from an autocue. You can then watch your performance and even have it sent to your Facebook page if you wish. We bypassed the Facebook option but we did find it rather good fun.
We enjoyed The Planets gallery which presented lots of clear information and some striking models which illustrated key points in a memorable way. For example, there was a model which showed what happens to Mercury at night, explaining the dramatic temperature changes from hot in the day to cold at night. You could even peer through a porthole to see a real piece of rock from the surface of Mars.
I was rather amused to come across a Clanger, which looked rather incongruous amongst the more 'techy' information and exhibits, but it brought a smile to my face, as well as reminding me of the impact that the moon landing had on popular culture. (The Clangers made their TV debut in 1969).
Of all the galleries, my favourite was Into Space because, in addition to more technical information, it provided lots of insight into the experiences of the astronauts, the human interest stories that I find the most fascinating. Here we saw a full size mock-up of the Columbus Module from the International Space Station. It is funny how the littlest details can sometimes be the most striking. My daughter was intrigued by the sight of some vacuum packed M & Ms. (Well, you don't want your M & Ms floating around in space, do you?)
In this section we found out some astonishing things about what happens to your body in space. I had never realised that muscles and bones start to waste away in space, for example. I enjoyed looking at a selection of astronaut foods. Dehydrated tuna salad, anyone? How about pork with vegetables in a tube? In the Into Space section you can find out if you can judge speed and distance well enough to dock a spacecraft. My husband was thrilled to perform better than the kids did in a test to measure the speed of his reactions. You can also discover if your colour vision is good enough to be an astronaut. (Mine wasn't!)
The Rocket Tower houses compartments of the Blue Streak and Thor Able rockets, which do look quite spectacular (along with the Russian Soyuz Capsule at the entrance). In this part of the Space Centre you can find out all about the Space Race with the help of some useful timelines. You can re-enact Yuri Gagarin's experience in a simulator and you can watch the Apollo 11 moon landing in a replica 1960s living room. I thought this was a delightful exhibit, because I love anything to do with the 1960s. In addition to the psychedelic wallpaper and old fashioned furnishings, you could open drawers and cupboards and see things like pre-decimal coins, Green Shield Stamps etc. People were encouraged to write their memories of the moon landing and post them on a board, which I thought was a great idea. I always find it moving to watch the moon landing footage, no matter how many times I have seen it before. The 1960s living room and old fashioned TV made it yet more poignant.
Would I recommend the National Space Centre?
If you have an interest in space, definitely. I think to get the full benefit of the centre, children would need to be at least 8 as there is quite a lot of reading involved. However, it's a colourful, visually stimulating place to be and the young children I saw seemed to be having a great time. If you have an older child with an interest in space, you could probably bring a younger child along too without them getting too restless. If they do, there is a small play zone for under 5s in the Planets gallery with a few toys, games and a DVD showing cartoons.
I felt that the gallery areas were spacious and with good access for pushchairs and wheelchairs. There are 3 floors to the Space Centre, but the upper floors are served by lifts. I must stress, however, that we were fortunate enough to visit on a day when it was not too crowded. On a busy day, I can imagine it would be a nuisance to wait for lifts.
The prices are £13 for adults, £11 for children (aged 5 to 16) and £11 concessions. Under 5s are free. We were given a free annual pass, which makes it seem better value, although this does not include entry to the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium. This is a little bit crafty because for my children the full dome cinema was very much the highlight of their visit and they would definitely want to do that if we came again, so we would have to pay out to see another show. The annual pass is a good idea for anyone who doesn't live far away though who has a real interest in space.
We felt that there was so much information that we couldn't really take it in after one visit, so it may well be that we will return. We did enjoy it and it is certainly a good option for a rainy day.
Staff seemed cheerful and welcoming and the gift shop was well stocked and included a good selection of pocket money priced items, so children (and parents) didn't have to spend a fortune on a souvenir.
The National Space Centre in Leicester is the largest UK space attraction according to their website. Be warned that the standard of competition is pretty low though! If you've got a child aged five years or more who is really interested in learning about space, then this is a great place to spend a morning or afternoon. If your child is younger than five, or not particularly interested in space, then frankly this place is a waste of a large amount of money.
With prices set at a staggering £13 per adult and £11 per child (aged five to sixteen), plus a £2 parking charge per car, this is not a cheap day out. The prices are for an annual pass, but realistically there is little reason why you'd want or need to visit this place more than once. It's not like they're constantly updating the information displays, and there's no real play appeal involved for the kids. But then I guess the people who set the prices knew that when they decided to make their tickets automatic annual passes, I think it's just a marketing ploy to try to soften the blow.
Inside the space centre, there's not a lot to see and do, but the displays are at least nicely presented with lots of soft lighting and child-sized bits of text dotted around the place. There are a few models of some of the planets (but not all) and each planet has it's own little corner in the centre to tell the kids a bit about it and show them a couple of pictures. It's all very asthetically pleasing, and young kids will hopefully pick up a few new facts here and there about space and the planets within it. I didn't feel there was much here for adults to learn though, and there was very little to do for children who cannot yet read independently. There are some touchy-feely bits and pieces dotted around the place, but not very many. There are also a few touch screen computers and TV screens included, but these are too complicated for young children to manage, and yet have fairly simplistic and uninformative for older kids to gain much from.
The thing we did really enjoy in here was the theatre show, and while we paid through the nose to see it, it was an enjoyable and somewhat informative experience. The theatre is a large dome basically, and the film is shown on a screen that goes all the way up and around the domed roof of the theatre (which is situation in the middle of the space centre). You feel like you're in a simulator as they show the film whizzing all over space, and while you don't actually move - you feel like you do. I found the show really well put together and accessible for a wide age group. Younger kids could enjoy the bright colours and pretty stars, along with picking up on a few key words from some of the speakers contributing to the film, while adults and older kids could take an interest in some of the brief but more indepth explanations offered throughout.
We enjoyed our recent trip to the National Space Centre, but I think they could do more to make this a day out for the family and justify the price tag. We got round the whole thing, including the theatre show and stopping to eat our packed lunches, in about two and a half hours. Like I said - that included lunch. The whole thing could be drastically improved with just a few simple additions, like a space themed play area for the kids, and a few extra, more indepth displays, to offer interest and education to older visitors. What's here has been done to a high standard, there's just not enough of it. If they lowered the price tag, or gave reason for people to make use of the automatic annual pass, then I'd feel easier about recommending the place. For now, I've got to go with an inbetween three stars though. We liked it, but we won't visit again unless they expand.
I visited the Space Centre just after it first opened, when I was in primary school. Since then, I have always remembered specific experiences which made me want to go back. So last month, my boyfriend and I decided to head to Leicester for a day out at the musuem.
We made a bit of a mess getting to the centre as we did not plan it, we took a National Express coach from Nottingham to Leicester, which dropped us off close to the city centre. We asked the driver how to get to the Space Centre and he told us it would be too far to walk, we should get a taxi. Being as tight as we are, we decided not to listen to him and followed some sign posts to the centre. It took us an hour to walk there, along a main road, but saved us a fair amount in a taxi.
We arrived at the centre around 11am, not too long after it had opened. We were expecting to que to get in but there were no ques at the checkouts and we were seen very quickly. The staff are very helpful and told us that are tickets came with a viewing of 'We Are Atronomers' and asked us what time we would like to go and see this, rather than tell us what time we were booked in for.
Admission was £13 each for an adult but if you return with the same ticket on another date, you receive a years free pass to the Centre, which is an absolute bargain for £13!!
**We Are Astronomers**
The documentary that we watched was shown in the dome theatre, as soon as we walked in I knew that this was going to make me feel ill at some point! The name pretty much describes the screen, it is a dome, but the whole top half of the dome is a screen. The documentary was played out over the top of the room, with your seats laying down so that you can see all of it.
I don't really remember much of the programme, it was narrated by David Tenant and talked about stars and planets. At one point I had to close my eyes as I was starting to feel really sick. This is a great experience, but not good for the sickly. Also, if you do not like 3D things, you probably will not like this.
You walk around the rest of the centre looking at displays and reading information boards. Some of this was quite interesting but I did find that there was way too much to read to keep my attention, so children will probably get bored with this quite easily. Luckily, there are a few hands on activites throughout the displays which can hold a child's attention for a short time and make the experience a little more fun.
Around the centre there are life size space shuttles etc which you can sit in, perfect photo opportunity. Also, if you go up the tower, each level has a range of different activities before you make your way up to the next. This is quite fun but became very annoying when my boyfriend started to argue with a child about who's go it was with the rocket launcher game!!
As you near the end of the experience, there is a part of the centre which has many different exercises that atronauts have to carry out in order to train to go into space. This is quite fun as everyone can get involved, but does get very busy! There are also a few other activities here, have your photo taken on the moon and then pay £5 for the photograph (no thanks). There is also a stimulation ride which sits around 20 people at a time and takes you on a ride through space. I found this quite boring and the ride seemed more bumpy that exciting, like you were just being thrown about.
I cant say I was overly enthused about returning to the centre and receiving my free years pass, and I don't think I will bother.
We did have an enjoyable day and there was plenty for us to do but all of the writing couldn't keep our attention so we missed a lot of stuff out. Also, we seemed to have walked around the centre and played on everything within 2 hours, so it's not an all day activity.
Admission is very good, fair enough £13 might seem expensive for a few hours but, if you have children or enjoyed it, you can come back for a year for free which is a great deal.
I have to mention that the Abbey Pumping Museum is based right next door to the Space Centre, it is free to go in and look around. Although it only took us 30 minutes to have a look, it was quite interesting, yet strange. If you are at a loose end when you have looked around the Space Station I would recommend popping in and having a quick look.
Me and my fiancee wanted a day out that was indoors due to the damp weather, and the National Space Centre appealed to us both. The Centre is ideal for a rainy day as all exhibitions are indoors and the two main, large car parks which hold approx 400 cars, are situated a short walk from the main entrance.
Once inside the centre the staff are extremely friendly and helpful. We arived around 10:30am (half an hour after opening time) there was a queue however this moved fairly quickly as all tills were open! When purchasing our tickets the staff member was informative of what was available to do in the centre and explained that our tickets allowed us access in and out of the centre all day. Tickets have barcodes on to allow you to scan them in the entrance turnstyles to gain entry more than once. So if you had forgotton something in your car access back into the centre is problem free.
The first exhibition that we went to was the 360 degree fulldome theatre where we were transported into the night sky to learn about astronomy in a short film called; 'We are Astronomers', narrated by David Tennant. The theatre also shows other films about space but seem to be shown on different days. Certain films are at an additional cost!
Through out the National Space Centre there are many hands on activities to allow children and adults to have fun whilst learning all about the planets, exploring space and the lunar landings. There is definately something for everyone at the space centre!
The main attraction is probably the Tranquillity base where you can undertake activitities that simulate training experiences for astronauts. This gets very busy but is worth the wait, especially the 3D simulator ride, at no extra cost!
The Space Centre is clearly signposted with brown tourist signs fom all the main routes around Leicester. It is reasonably priced at approx £12 for an adult, as the centre is a charity. It is also part of the Tesco clubcard days out vouchers!
I work for the open top tours in leicestershire, so im so used to promoting the space centre and saying how good it is, but heres my personal opinion.
I first visited just before it opened with special tickets, this was before it was all finished aswel, and then i found it quite amazing.
There were some great things to do, such as building a rocket from foam pieces, there was also a jigsaw of earth.
and life size shuttles to sit and do little things with.
The lifts weren't working when i went so i has to walk the 365 steps, to get to the top which has some great sights for the rockets.
Today, you can go into the gift shop, and café free, but its does cost £12adult £8 child, and there are family offers aswel.
Also you can use tesco days out vouchers.
If you do go to the space centre, use the open top bus outside the space centre, if you use the bus before you can get an offer in the gift shop.
I visited this last summer on a cheap day out by using my tesco vouchers to pay for it! It was a good day out but I am glad I did not pay the full admission price as I am not too sure I would have felt it was worth it. The main feature has to be the massive rocket which you can take lifts to different levels and see right up to the top, with various things to see on the different levels. I was very impressed with the section with pieces of glass that had been in space and you could see the thickness and it explained all about things that could damage the glass.
The highlight for us was the theatre show explaning how astronauts expanded whilst is space and narrated by Ewan McGreggor. I am planning another visit next summer and have noticed the features do change so it is worth having a look at whats on when you intend to go.
All in all a good family day out
As a resident of Leicestershire, my initial excitement of this new attraction was quickly ended after my first visit. In places, technology is used in an innovative way, like, for example, the weather booth, in which you can try to be the next Sian Lloyd, only probably more attractive. This, however, does not really go with the theme of the Space Centre, although I know the meteorological office have space satellites. The main tower contains a model spaceship around 75 ft high. It contains several floors, each containing different activities, although I found these activities to be either boring or that they didn't actually work.
Despite these negatives, the toilets are quite nice, and it is never really busy, therefore it makes for a quite relaxing day out. I would imagine most of the visitors come from the local area as Leicester isn't a central hub for visitors. But for all those prospective visitors, it's ok to spend a couple of hours there, but make plans for later in the day. Also the cafe has very limited choice, and I daresay the prices are ridiculously high. Take a packed lunch
Admission prices average for this type of venue. This attraction is grey and unwelcoming, it lacks atmosphere and the entrance area is freezing cold with the wind whistling through. The lifts inside the rocket tower do not work and a notice at the entance proudly declares that they have never worked since the centre was opened. Quite ironic when one takes in to considration that the next door neighbour is one of the worlds leading supplier of lifts. The upstairs bar/refreshment area was closed, appeared to have been for some time. The service at the downstairs refreshment area was very slow with a very limited range of products and amazingly expensive prices. A hot dog sausage like those from a supermarket tin of hot dogs in a white finger role on its own was £2.10. The advertised 3.10pm show in the theatre did not open its doors untill 3.35pm without a word of explanation, even though a large queue of obviously unhapy customers were waiting and despite the fact that large groups of staff were standing idly by chatting amongst themselves. In conclussion whilst the attraction does contain some interesting exhibits, We found our visit a total dissapintment, we certainly could not reccommend this venue
To infinity and beyond!! Via Leicester, this is your opportunity if you choose to visit the National Space Centre which has recently opened in Leicester. My guess is that you didn’t actually know that Britain had a National Space Centre, and you certainly wouldn’t have guessed it was in Leicester, Well it is and is certainly worth a visit. Opening Times: The centre was opened in July and is situated about two miles from the city centre and is reasonably well served by a bus route, It is also signposted from the M1 motorway, just follow the signs with a rocket on them. It is open Tuesday- Sundays from 9.30 am to 6.30 pm, it is also open on Mondays in school holidays only from 12.00-6.30 pm. Admission Price: Admission is £7.50 for Adults and £5.50 for children, although you can also get a family ticket for £22.00 which admits 2 adults and 2 children. As part of the admittance you get a timed ticket to see a multimedia performance entitled “Big” in the space theatre. To visit all the attractions probably needs at least 3 hours but could easily keep you occupied four up to 4 hours so it is quite good value for your money. What’s there? As you approach the centre you will see a large glass tower which houses two actual (or mock ups) of rockets and this will probably be first port of call. You can either catch a lift to the top of the building to look down on the rockets or you can walk up 144 steps stopping at different levels as you go along. At each level there are various exhibits explaining different things about space travel and lots of interactive things to do (including launching your own water powered rocket). Underneath the rocket is a nice looking restaurant/café where you can get things to eat and drink. The rest of the building comprises of a large hall which is split into several different areas which I will try and briefly comment on. The first area de
alt with what it is like to be an astronaut, again there were several mock ups of landing craft and the challenger space pod all of which you can explore. There are also examples of space clothing and as throughout the museum lots of interactive exhibits. Our children’s favourites included a ‘Reaction Wall” a test to see whether you can stay calm under pressure, a simulation of a take off and the chance to explain to your partner how to put things together without actually seeing them. All of them were supposed to represent tasks that astronauts had to do in training for a space mission, and they were thoroughly enjoyed by our two children age 9 and 12. Another area sets out to show you how satellites help us in everyday life with a number of large screens, showing things like sea temperature across the globe, wind speed and direction and the growth of the Ozone layer in the Antarctic. The best thing here for the kids was an opportunity to do their very own television weather forecast. They go into a booth and various weather maps come up on a display together with subtitles for them to read and react to. Afterwards they can come outside and watch their on a video playback, it was great fun. Another area looked at each of the planets in turn, trying to give ideas of their size, temperature and what they are made up of. Quite educational but also a lot of good fun with lots of things to do. There is also an opportunity to have your picture taken with E.T. and have it printed on a B.T sponsored type credit card. I think you can also get it put on the web to download for yourself at home (there was something very similar at the Millennium Dome” Another area tries to convey how vast space is and the large distances that one would have to travel in order to reach other planets and galaxies. This last idea is followed up in the film that you can see in the space theatre. This is called “BIG” and is a true
multimedia experience. The screen is over the whole ceiling and it uses the type of projection that you would see in a 360 degree cinema at such places as Alton Towers. The show lasts approx 20 mins and is truly spectacular taking you through our galaxy and onto the edge of the solar system. Again it attempts fairly successfully to show you how “BIG” the universe is. There are lots of other smaller areas to explore and lots to do, even the toilets are space-aged. There is a small gift shop where you can buy lots of space related gifts including freeze-dried strawberries. There were quite a lot of people there, being the middle of the school holidays, but it didn’t feel particularly crowded and our kids didn’t have to wait long in order to get a turn on the interactive exhibits. I would say it is suitable for 5-16 year old although adults will also get quite a lot of it. They do not let children under 5 into the film, although there is a play area for them. Unfortunately there is no outside area so you can’t take a picnic. If you want more info try the web site on www. spacecentre.co.uk . I would certainly recommend it for a visit, especially if you live within a reasonable travelling distance of Leicester.