The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester has long been a popular day out for me and the boy. I remember visiting as a child and it had such an impact on me. Sadly, the Air and Space section across the road has had to close, but The Museum of Science and Industry is always a fascinating place to visit.
Due to Covid-19, you are encouraged to book your free tickets in advance of your visit, this is to ensure it doesn’t get too busy. On Thursday last week I took my boy and my nephew to explore the new and temporary exhibition – Top Secret: From ciphers to cyber security.
The exhibition coincides with the centenary of GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence, security and cyber agency. It’s all about spies, spying and cracking codes; just the thing for two boys with wild imaginations and a burgeoning affection for James Bond films.
From Alan Turing and his fellow codebreakers at Bletchley Park, to one of the most successful Soviet spy rings in Cold War Britain, to modern-day cyber-crime, Top Secret explores over a century’s worth of communications intelligence through hand-written documents, declassified files and incredible artefacts from GCHQ’s and the Science Museum Group’s historic collections.
The exhibition is equally fascinating to adults as to children. Children can get involved in the activity trail and I found it all fascinating; especially the section dedicated to Bletchley Park and the Enigma machine. The boys have heard of Alan Turing and were keen to find out more about him and his work.
The activity trail is a great way to get kids involved in what they are seeing. Using their observational skills and teamwork, they can answer the questions along the way. There’s a dedicated are where you can crack codes and help identify patterns. This was especially popular with my two boys, who both got stuck into solving the puzzles. It was utterly engrossing, so it’s worth setting aside some time to explore this area. There were also people on hand to help out if you got stuck and to explain how the cypher machines worked.
The boys also really enjoyed the more recent work of GCHQ; and we had an interesting discussion about how Alexa might be listening to them and what that could mean.
It was a fascinating exhibition to take the boys to. It certainly got them thinking and they really enjoyed the activity trail and puzzles. It’s a shame it finishes at the end of the month; but if you are interested, I suggest you get along to The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester sooner rather than later.
Top Secret: From ciphers to cyber security runs until 31st August 2021. The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester is open daily. Find out more information about this exhibition and how to book your free tickets by visiting the website.