My son and his cousin are huge fans of hands-on tourist attractions, so they couldn’t wait to visit the Thinktank Science Museum in Birmingham. Housed inside the city’s impressive Millennium Point building, the award-winning science museum offers four floors of fascinating hands-on exhibits and historical collections. We picked a weekday early in the summer holiday and, surprisingly, it wasn’t very busy (perhaps not all of the schools had broken up at the time of our visit). Visitors are advised to book for shows and activities on arrival, and because the two boys are keen LEGO builders, we reserved places on a LEGO family education session, which proved to be a big hit. Ably assisted by staff member Natalie, our son Ewan and his cousin Fin quickly got to work building the ‘ultimate machine’. When complete, they went head to head to test the strength of their battery-powered LEGO contraptions.
We also booked to watch the ‘Journey to Infinity’ show in the Planetarium. And although it only lasted about 10 minutes, we were taken on an awe-inspiring journey to the edge of the universe. For lunch the grown-ups opted for chicken burgers and chips in the cafe, while the boys shared a pizza (with a little bit of help!).
Another hit with the boys was the science garden, an outdoor discovery park that explores the science behind energy, mechanics and mobility. They especially enjoyed the human pulley and the rockets. But be warned, some of the activities feature water, so your little ones (and you) may not come away perfectly dry.
Inside on the ground floor the focus is on Birmingham’s industrial heritage. A highlight is the City of Birmingham Locomotive, which visitors can step aboard. On the first floor we delved into the city’s thriving manufacturing industry. The stand-out exhibit here is a magnificent Spitfire (over 60 per cent of these aircraft were built in Birmingham during the Second World War). Moving up to the next level, we jumped forward in time to the present day. The boys explored the kids’ mini city, and we all had a giggle learning about body functions in the ‘things about me’ area.
Also on the second floor is the museum’s impressive natural history collections, including the Thinktank Ichthyosaur – a giant sea monster from the time of the dinosaurs. The top floor focuses on the future and space. Ewan and Fin had a go at directing Robothespian, a life-sized robot actor. They also loved creating their own alien. By the end of the day we had to drag the boys away, which shows that it’s easy to spend a full day here. Thinktank is the perfect place for curious youngsters to feed their minds – and, as adults, my husband and I were equally enthralled. Museums have certainly come a long way from the stuffy venues of the past.
Here’s a short video collage of our day at the Science Museum, do watch it to see what we did
Where is Thinktank?
Thinktank (Birmingham Science Museum)
(For satnav use postcode B4 7AP)
Tel: 0121 348 8000
When is it open?
- Open daily (including bank holidays), from 10am to 5pm, with last admission at 4pm
- The Planetarium will be closed once a month for maintenance, click here for dates
How much is it?
- Adults (including over-60s) £13.50
- Concessions (students/benefits, excluding over-60s) £9.75
- Children (3-15 years) £9.75
- Children (under 3 years) FREE
- Family of 3 (max 2 adults) £33
- Family of 4 (max 2 adults) £41
- Family of 5 (max 2 adults) £50
- Planetarium show (not included in Thinktank ticket price) £1.50
Things to note:
- There is an adult and toddler (3-5 years old) ticket offer for £15, valid from Monday to Friday during Birmingham term time only
- The Science Garden is free every day from 3pm, with varying closing times in winter due to light levels
- Visit Thinktank for £3 per person after 3pm on weekdays during term time
- Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult
- Children aged 13-15 are not allowed unaccompanied without parental/guardian consent
- Tickets for the Planetarium shows can be purchased at the ticket desk on arrival
- There are café facilities, a shop, baby changing room and a picnic area
- Thinktank is fully accessible for visitors with mobility difficulties and there are central lifts to all floors
- Guide and Assistance dogs are welcome
- The multi-storey car park next to Millennium Point offers free parking to blue badge holders
Upcoming events at Thinktank:
- LEGO family education sessions are running daily throughout the summer holiday, giving visitors the chance to build and test the ultimate machine. Each session is £2 per person and lasts 45 minutes (Thinktank entry charges also apply)
- Duplo education sessions, for children aged 2-6 years old, give budding builders the opportunity to create a new Thinktank city. The 30-minute sessions run daily at 11.30am throughout the summer holiday. Entry is £1.50 per child (Thinktank admission charges also apply)
Review by: Colette Warbrook
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* We were provided with free entry passes to Thinktank in return for a review. All opinions are our own.