Manchester is no stranger to festivals; we have an inherent party streak and a reason to celebrate most things. This week (24th October to 3rd November 2013) is the Manchester Science Festival produced by The Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI).
Manchester has a proud scientific history and even today our scientists are making groundbreaking discoveries, there is much to shout about. Being Mum to a curious and industrious nearly 3 year old, we thought we’d take him for his first visit to MOSI.
We arrived and straight away we hit the cafe for refreshment. We all had a drink and some cake. I had an enormous and still warm Eccles cake which is basically my idea of heaven. Hodge had an excellent Danish pastry and Splodge a blueberry muffin.
Suitably refreshed, we toddled over to the Power Hall to have a go at making our own Graphene. We were given a bag of bits and some instructions on how to assemble it. Graphene being the most exciting thing to come out of Manchester since The Stone Roses meant that this workshop was incredibly popular. Our little family enjoyed a bit of scientific team building and made our small sheet of Graphene.
Throughout the day the individual sheets are connected and added to a huge molecular model of Graphene outside. By lunchtime it was already impressively huge.
While we were in the Power Hall it seemed rude not to take the train mad toddler to look at the train exhibits, then he spotted the working steam train outside, so we had to have a go. For £2 per adult and £1 per child for a 10 minute round trip we thought it was good value. We sat with the guard and he let Splodge wave his flag to signal to the driver. This was quite possibly the highlight of his little life to date.
While we were by the trains we popped into the Station Building and took part in the Rube Goldberg Machine Workshop. This was really simple, accessible for virtually all ages and fun. Because we’d figured it out (because we’re geniuses obviously) Splodge was given a bag of sweets. This was definitely turning into the best day of his life!
Bellies rumbling, lunch beckoned. We’d already been to the lovely cafe so we decided to head to the restaurant. I was so impressed. There was a brilliant selection of healthy, local, fresh food. Hodge went for the individual cottage pie with roasted new potatoes and beautiful veg. Splodge had a sausage with potatoes and veg, and I, sniffing the air like the Bisto Kid, smelt pizza and just had to have one. I went for the margarita.
The pizzas are freshly made in front of you and cooked to order in a pizza oven. I’m not usually mad keen on pizza as they can be stodgy and dull, but the base was crispy, the tomato sauce tangy and plentiful and the cheese was tasty and wasn’t greasy, it was pretty much up there for me, and I’m a fussy so and so.
A good lunch for the three of us came to around £20, which we felt was exceptional value given the quality and the quantity on our plates. Hodge said he was impressed there were no chips and that the options were on the healthy side. We’re having a light tea as we had a big dinner. I’d certainly go back again.
After lunch we were beginning to flag, so we explored the “Experimental” area where there are hands-on things for kids to try and make and do. This was brilliant, it wasn’t part of the festival but it would easily keep a nipper entertained for a while. There was a small soft play type area where we went for a little sit down. Splodge charged around building towers out of soft bricks and generally have a great time. He was tiring though so we had to choose one last thing and head off home.
We chose to have a mooch around the Air & Space Hall. Being keen on pretty much all forms of transport he raced around shouting “airplane”, loving every minute and pretty much guaranteeing a return visit fairly sharp-ish.
I was a bit disappointed I didn’t get to see the exhibits I wanted to see. If I’d had my clever head on, I would have broken away from the boys and left them to their trains and gone and enjoyed the Ice Lab exhibition by myself. The exhibition apparently gave a sense of what it’s like to live and work in Antarctica. Fascinating.
There were lots more I wanted to see and do and I’m sorely tempted to go back by myself later in the week and spend a bit more time there. Everything we saw and did was really accessible. All the staff and volunteers were so lovely and helpful, especially towards young Splodge.
As it is Science Festival week the place is teeming with guides, keep an eye out for friendly types in bright green t-shirts. It’s also half-term week in Manchester and there is so much going on at the festival. Something for all interests and ages. Have a look at the festival website and see what’s on.