Written on 10 Dec 2015 in Press Mentions
Endlessly inquisitive children are gathering around the exhibits about space travel in the big square room that is the Cambridge Science Centre, pressing buttons, moving the hands-on experiments and, not least, asking the question everyone has about life at the international space station: 'What is it like to wee in zero g?'
The answer to that one is obtained by scanning a bar code on the space toilet door exhibit, which plays a video featuring astronaut Samantha Cristoferretti responding to what is apparently one of the astronauts' most asked question: how does the international space station toilet work!
This is the moment for space curiosity as part of Destination space, the celebration the British Astronaut Tim Peak's soon to begin 5-month residency in the station. Cambridge is one of 19 UK centres to take part in the event sparked by the name of the European Space Agency's first British astronaut.
The interactive exhibits make up one of a rolling series of shows, talks, school visits and outreach that make up the centre's work since its opening in February 2013. Now in a single room with a capacity of 80 people, the centre aims within a few years to raise money for a £10 million full-scale science facility that will raise its game yet further.
Situated on Jesus Lane in the centre of the city, the science centre is an educational charity whose mission is to highlight the value of science, technology, engineering and Maths, and by introducing these skills in to everyday lifeinspire future careers in these fields.
The centre also aims to connect the community through science, such as by offering schools the opportunity to book sessions in the centre or by going into schools, hosting workshops, shows and talks and even offering the centre as an alternative birthday party venue. It won an award for customer experience as a tourist destination recently.
Its current exhibition, COSMIC, running until June 30, 2016 concentrates on space, the solar system, stars, meteorites and machines used in space exploration. I went along one Saturday afternoon recently, finding it a great place for everyone to explore and learn in a fun educational way.
The exhibits, enjoyed by a odd inquisitive adult as well as youngsters, include moving different Perspex shapes around in front of light to discoverhow the projection of light changed. Another sends small snooker-like balls around a gravity well, which shows how gravity affects objects moving around a star or planet.
Also on show is a real space suit, just like the one that will be keeping Peake safe when he starts his journey to the International Space Station in December, and interactive experiments exploring the life of meteorites, planets and stars and discovering information about the moon and what the surface feels like. Many have screens full of extra informative and easy to read information and facts.
Throughout each day science centre staff give talks. Whilst I was there a talk about stars was given with some audience participation included - a great idea, and no mean feat catching the attention of children, even those already enthused by the experiments surrounding them.
The centre has something for everyone, whether a visitor, local, child or adult and certainly lives up to its customer experience plaudits.
Source: Local Secrets Online