Category Archives: Families

Sir Isaac Newton drama character

The next time you visit the Museum, not only can you witness the great exhibits and events we have on offer, you can also meet famous scientists and other characters throughout history! (Well, kind of…).  Unfortunately, we haven’t invented a time machine but you can meet Sir Isaac Newton, the world’s first pregnant man and even some giant cockroaches, which are just a few characters brought to life everyday by actors inside the Museum.

Isaac Newton Drama Character

Today I met Sir Isaac Newton (not the real one obviously, the actor’s name is Guy) who invented the cat-flap, named the colours of the rainbow and of course thought a lot about gravity:

Chi: Sir Isaac Newton?

Newton: Oh, call me Isaac please! What a fascinating emporium this place is. Marvellous!

Chi: Yes, thank you, um, Isaac. So, these toys you have here… ?

Newton: Toys? These, Sir, are my scientific apparatus!

Chi: Really?

Newton: Well, do you like to experiment?

Chi: Yeah!

Newton: May I recommend “The Early Learning Centre” then, marvellous place!  Take this pink ball, for example. Smell it.

Chi: Huh?

Newton: Experiment, Sir. You seem rather hard to convince. Rather like the Royal Society, I might add. Go on, smell it.

Chi: It sort of smells like strawberries…?

Newton: Yes, very peculiar, isn’t it? So if I roll it along the ground like so – excuse me, Sir, you’re somewhat in the way. Thank you – why does it come to a standstill?  Don’t you go to bed at night and worry about strawberry smelling objects coming to a standstill?

Chi: Errr…no.

Newton: Oh, is it just me then? Well, does it stop because it smells of strawberries?

Chi: Well, no…

Newton: Ha! You see. You already have a theory on why it stops. Clearly you are a natural philosopher. Marvellous! Everyone is. Also, take a look at my cheeseboard over here…

Chi: Erm, it’s a skateboard.

Newton: Really? I thought it was a cheeseboard. After all, it’s yellow. And has wheels on it so you can push it along the table. Marvellous!

Explainer Fact: Fancy meeting Sir Isaac Newton and other drama characters?  Check the Science Museum website for further details.  School groups can book their own drama character session.

Many thanks to Guy for his enormous contribution.

Blue Marble

Apollo 17 – One last view of the Blue Marble

Forty years ago today, on 7th December 1972, Apollo 17 and three astronauts, Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, blasted into orbit. The three-day trip was to be the final mission of the US Apollo space programme, and forty years later, humans are still to leave low earth orbit to return to the Moon.

Launch of the Apollo 17 mission

This Saturn V rocket carrying astronauts Eugene Cernan (Commander), Ronald Evans (Command Module pilot) and Harrison Schmitt (Lunar Module pilot), lifted off from the Kennedy Space Centre, Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 7th December 1972.
Credit © National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society Picture Library

The Apollo 17 crew carried out many scientific experiments and broke several records – the longest time in lunar orbit, longest extravehicular activities on the lunar surface and the largest lunar sample return – as well as producing one of the most iconic and widely distributed photographic images in history: the Blue Marble.

Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt collecting samples

Schmitt is seen collecting Moon samples by a large lunar boulder, with part of the Lunar Rover in the foreground.
Credit © National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society Picture Library

Five hours into the Apollo 17 mission, the crew looked back at the Earth, some 45,000 km away, to capture this famous image. The photograph is one of only a few to show a fully illuminated Earth – the Sun was behind the astronauts when the image was captured – and to the crew, our planet appeared like a glass marble, hence the name. 

Blue Marble

This picture, known as Blue Marble, was taken by the crew of Apollo 17, NASA’s last manned lunar mission, on their way to the Moon in December 1972.

Aspiring astronauts of all ages have plenty of opportunities to see iconic space objects when visiting the Museum: A sample of Moon rock, brought back with Apollo 15 is on display in our exploring space gallery, with the Apollo 10 Command module – complete with re-entry scorch marks – on display in Making the Modern World.

Apollo 10, carrying astronauts Thomas Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan, was launched in May 1969 on a lunar orbital mission as the dress rehearsal for the actual Apollo 11 landing.
Image Credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

Families can celebrate the 40th anniversary of the last man to walk on the moon with the Legend of Apollo 4D Experience. Feel the impact of a Saturn V rocket launch and join the ground-breaking Apollo mission crew through NASA film archives and 3D computer animation. Legend of Apollo is suitable for ages 4+, flights take off throughout the day and can be booked here.

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Science Museum Halloween Guests

Halloween at the Museum

By Claire Hunt, Development Team

Ghostly goings on dominated our Flight gallery last Friday as over 400 corporate members and members of the museum dusted off their finest spooky outfits to join the Development Team for their annual Halloween Evening. You can tag yourself in images from the night on Facebook.

The ghost of Albert Einstein

The ghost of Albert Einstein

Guests were greeted by the ghosts of Albert Einstein and Amy Johnson and treated to a delicious Halloween inspired menu of autumnal stews served from witches cauldrons and jellied eyeballs. Our creative choreographer transformed the younger guests into dancing zombies whilst they rocked out to Michael Jackson’s iconic song: Thriller and our resident DJ ensured the tunes flowed all night.

Science Museum Halloween Guests

Located in the dark depths of our fourth floor Medical Gallery was the terrifying torch lit treasure hunt where our guests tackled a series of questions with only a torch to unearth the answers. Guests also had the opportunity to make, and understand the scientific properties of, slime as well as create some Halloween inspired fridge magnets and jewellery.

The terrifying torch lit treasure hunt

The terrifying torch lit treasure hunt

Overall the event was a huge success with over 1,000 members applying for our limited, and much sought after, tickets. The Development Team is already planning next year’s event which looks set to be the biggest yet.

Green Babies

Green Babies

Walk into any baby shop and you will be bombarded by products claiming ‘green’ or ‘eco’ credentials. It no longer seems good enough to bring up a happy, healthy child; you now need a ‘green baby’!

Green Babies

A glance through the message boards of MumsNet shows there is a lot of debate about sustainable parenting: Disposable or renewable nappies? Organic cotton or hemp based baby grows? Bamboo fibre nursing pads (called banboobies!) or toys made of recycled plastic? It can be tough to know where to start.

At the Science Museum this Thursday (27th September) you can join our ‘Green Babies’ workshop to try and work through some of these issues. Journalist Annalisa Barbieri and other experts will be on hand to answer questions from new and expectant parents about how to reduce your baby’s carbon footprint and environmental impact.

It should be an excellent opportunity to pick up hints and tips, and debate with leading eco-experts on how to navigate the perplexing world of green parenting.

Join us on Thursday at 11am (with or without your tiny tots) in the Things Gallery on the basement floor of the Science Museum – visit the event page to book your free place.

Science Museum Live on Tour

Post written by Explainer Amanda

A spotlight follows a child as he or she makes their way to the stage. The audience chants “Push the button! Push the button!” A giant red button is pushed, thus beginning not only a chain reaction machine, but also Science Museum Live on Tour.

Science Museum Live On Tour Poster

Science Museum Live, the Science Museum’s first ever live theatrical tour, toured theatres throughout England and Wales from January to May 2011. Mark McKinley and I (Amanda Mahr) performed almost 100 shows in just under 50 venues.

Incorporating Key Stage 2 (7-11) and Key Stage 3 (11-14) science, Science Museum Live was aimed mainly at families on a night out to the theatre with school groups largely attending during matinees.

The show flip-flopped between silly scenarios and serious science with fun as the underlying element to both. For one scene, Mark and I dressed up in sumo costumes as Robert Hooke and Isaac Newton in order to wrestle over who truly discovered gravity. In another, I played a magician while Mark played my glamorous assistant (complete with feather boa and heels of course) as we demonstrated the “magic of science” through a series of experiments.

Amanda and Mark demonstrating an experiment

Amanda and Mark demonstrating an experiment

More serious scenes included using liquid nitrogen to create a banana hammer (proved by its competency at hammering a nail into a block of wood) and by building a hovercraft onstage using a slab of wood we “just had lying around” and a leaf blower in order to help an innocent volunteer re-enact Christopher Cockerell’s (hovercraft inventor) maiden hovercraft voyage from Dover to Calais!

Using liquid nitrogen to make a banana hammer

Using liquid nitrogen to make a banana hammer

Science Museum Live was extremely fast-paced and fun. It was enjoyed by both young and older audience members throughout the UK, as well as the crew members from each new theatre! We managed to reach out to many families who would be unable to visit the Museum. Through Science Museum Live, the Science Museum was able to branch out from schools and the Museum itself into a whole new means of entertainment: live theatre.

Explainer Fact: The second season of Science Museum Live (complete with new demonstrations) will be touring again beginning in January 2012 (tour dates).

Giant cockroach drama character

Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and the world’s first pregnant man – these are just a few of the characters brought to life by actors inside the Museum.

Today I met a real-life giant cockroach (the actor’s name is Guy) who is kind enough to give humans a tour of the Science Museum from this critter’s perspective. Here’s what Professor John Cockroach had to say:

“Ah nice to meet another friendly cockroach face! Quick, join in. Don’t forget to put on your weekend ‘best’. Going among the humans, we’re all to be on our best cockroach behaviour.

Now, you’re probably wondering why we cockroaches are gathering here?

Well, as cockroaches, we forget – don’t we? – we haven’t had to evolve for, well, millions of years. We are, after all, pretty much the same as we were when there were dinosaurs. Humans, bless ‘em, clearly still have a long way to go. But they’re trying, obviously, so we mustn’t judge them too harshly. That would be very uncockroach of us, wouldn’t it?

Human beings are so fascinating. D’you know, they change their own environment to solve their problems rather than evolve? Yes, they have a strange habit of constructing things and when they’ve finished they sometimes put those things in a room and call it a museum. How strange!

So, being a cockroach professor of humanology, ahem, I lead a group of you cockroaches, on a quick scuttle around, as it were, for about 30 minutes.

We’ll see how humans seem absolutely obsessed with something they call time. Many of them can’t even eat, sleep, or indeed leave the house without first ‘checking the time’.

We’ll see plenty of examples of their machines too, how they try to save time, kill time, and how they love to burn things in order to go faster and faster.

Just a quick reminder, though, to any of our cockroach visitors. Please don’t expect to feed the humans. Sorry, but they’re very fussy eaters and have quite strict feeding times.”

Cockroaches studing the Apollo 10 capsule

Cockroaches studying the Apollo 10 capsule

If dressing up as a giant cockroach and participating in a unique tour sounds like fun, sign up for a Cockroach Tour of the Science Museum.

A big thanks to Guy for his contribution to this post!

Space Trail

Intrepid space pioneers

Last week we welcomed a group of intrepid space pioneers into the Museum to try out our new space trail which opened to the public on Saturday.

They were a group of family bloggers and their kids who came along to try out the trail and review it for us. You can read reviews from, Mum in Meltdown, Mummy from the Heart, Thinly Spread, and the Life and Times of a Household Husband on their blogs and see wee what the kids had to say about it themselves below.

Our space explorers were eager to tell us  their favourite part of the trail, Cavan’s favourite bit was Asteroid in our Launchpad gallery ‘when we did all the hands on stuff ‘ and Alex’s was ‘looking at the real Apollo 10’s spaceship’ in Making The Modern World Gallery

The kids in our Launchpad gallery

The kids in our Launchpad gallery

Kaede and Jacob would both like to live on ‘the Moon’ if they could pick any of the destinations on our trail and Kaede wants to be ‘the last person to walk on it.’

We also asked our space travellers who they would most like to meet if they went to space again. Kaede is hoping for green, kind aliens ‘who will like to eat human food, and have 4 eyes and 10 arms’ and Cavan would like to meet ‘Neil Armstrong on Pluto’

The kids listening to the drama character

The kids listening to the drama character

Finally we wanted to know what the best thing they had learnt was and the answer was pretty much unanimous. The arcane mysteries of going to the loo in space were what really got them going. In the words of Cavan: ’I learned a lot of things but my favourite was learning that Buzz Aldrin was the first to wet his pants on the moon.’

Find out more about the space trail.

Summer in Space

Spend your summer holiday in space

This summer, from 23 July – 31 August, we’re inviting families to spend their summer holiday in space.

Summer in Space

Our new space trial will take you past some of the gems of our space collection. See the original Apollo 10 Command Module – the capsule that travelled around the Moon as a dress rehearsal for the Moon landing. Plus you can see a full-sized replica of the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander that took astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the Moon in 1969.

Kids can also play games about space tourism and decide if they would actually like to spend a holiday in outer space. They’ll collect some codes to grab a special souvenir at the end.

Another destination on the journey is our huge IMAX cinema. Immerse yourself in the incredible mission to service the Hubble space telescope in Hubble 3D, or witness the building of the International Space Station in Space Station 3D.

Find out all the things you never knew about what astronauts do and meet our Yuri Gagarin drama character, who’ll give his entertaining account of what it was like to be the first man in space exactly 50 years ago. You can find out more and plan your trip to space at

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date on everything at the Museum. Check back for exclusive updates from our space curator Doug Millard.

Drawings displayed in Launchpad

Your inventions

What are disco-dancing music shoes and stomping robot ponies doing in the Science Museum? Well…

Launchpad is our ‘hands-on minds-on’ gallery which is all about asking questions and making sense of the way things work.

The interactive exhibits (echo tube, air cannon, bubble wall etc) can get the kids pretty excited, so for a change of pace we encourage them sit down and draw a picture.

Sometimes they draw themselves playing in the gallery, sometimes it’ll be their vision of the future or an idea for a crazy new invention. The drawings are then displayed on the wall for everyone to see.

Drawings displayed in Launchpad

Drawings displayed in Launchpad

We’ve got hundreds tucked safely away and we’re going to start sharing the best of them via this blog.

But to give you a taste of what’s to come check out this wonderful animation. It was made by Sierk Heintzmann, who scanned some of the drawings before animating them with a soundtrack of the kids who created them. Watch out for the stomping robot ponies…