Then, one of my friends and a lifelong Brummie confessed that she had never been to either Thinktank or the Botanical Gardens because they were 'touristy'. Now, some places in Brum should definitely be avoided for those reasons ( I'm looking at you Sea life Centre.) but not these two!
So, you are stuck with this today, I promise we will be back to cheap, cheerful and semi forgotten next time!
Exhibits like this are rife throughout the museum and although I have seen people say they could only spend half a day there, letting minibrum run free on these filled most of the day easily, plus bonus tired child at the end all ready for a chill out before bedtime..
Split over four floors, Thinktank is easily labelled, easily manoeuvred and easily understood. Everywhere are bold and straightforward explanations of a myriad of subjects, with something to capture everyone's imagination. Trip Advisor would have you believe that Thinktank is dumbed down or for kids only, but we have found it fantastic for launching conversation and debate and wonderful for carrying on learning outside of school in a fun environment.
There is a great wet play area ( with overalls provided) explaining physics for younger children ( I also enjoyed splashing around in this, for the benefit of minibrum obviously) and a dress up section. We dressed as doctors, nurses, dentists and midwives. I have seriously struggled resisting putting up the photo of minibrum midwifing Mr.H through the delivery of his first child!
There is plenty on animals both current and extinct near the entrance and some very good visual exhibits here.
Quick note, on this floor there is a lot of interactive work with the human body, from digestive system to the path that sperm take to fertilisation.
This is a very clearly labelled section but I was gazing in wonder at a large intestine when mini first had her eyes on the goggles that provide this view. Luckily we had done the basics and the display is very matter of fact and illustrated sensibly but it's one to watch out for if you are hoping to stave off those difficult questions a little longer!
Upstairs on the top floor was my favourite section of the museum, all about space and robotics. We got a pair of robot arms to drum our rhythm, tried to get a space buggy to to take a photo of some rocks, dizzily got confused in a space buggy interaction and best of all programmed a robot. Apologies for the rubbish photo I was having way too much fun playing!
On the top floor as well is the planetarium, a 360 experience showing 15minute shows daily. These are not to be missed and you should plan to arrive at them early to be seated! It really is out of this world!
On the other two floors there are histories of a few subjects, leaving Mr.H in his element. A history of materials had minibrum pulling a face until she got to 'make' a rubber duck, a portrait of her 'jewellery' and to have a go a connecting an electrical system!
Likewise I thought that I would be bored on the bottom floor with transport the main subject but with a steam engine, lighthouse equipment and a full spitfire in attendance I was captivated. Much of the history on this floor heavily involves Birmingham and the Black Country, most especially Smethick Engine which was used to pump water to the top of a series of canal locks and many other things ( clicky)
It tips that water every seven minutes. I'd like to say I took this picture for you but I missed it once taking minibrum to the toilet, and missed it again because I left the lens cap on, so I just took this to prove I could.
All in all a day out here is well worth the money. If you are going by bus you can get the 14 (stop BS7), 55/55A 90 or 94 (stop BS9) or it is only about a 7 minute walk from the city centre
If you are coming by train then take advantage of London Midland Great Days Out scheme which will get you 30% off entrance. Coffee and Tea were a reasonable price but we bought our own packed lunch so I couldn't comment on the rest of the food!
For more information visit their website which also has a section for science you can try at home for rainy days!