Reviewed by Lee-Anne McCarthy
With four little people from the ages of 3 to 10 and a long Easter holiday we’re always looking for new distractions especially ones that broaden their educational experiences so when we were asked to review At Bristol (@ Bristol) we couldn’t be more excited. So we packed up our picnic and set off on our journey across the water from South Wales for our very own scientific adventure.
The centre is clearly signposted throughout the city of Bristol and is also easily found with the use of satnav. The car park is set under the centre and is incredibly convenient. When we arrived we were greeted by some very friendly and helpful staff. We were allocated wristbands each and a map/schedule of events that would be taking place that day. The member of staff then explained that the wristbands we’d all be wearing would record different parts of our day that we could then access around the centre at different screens and even access from home after our visit with the help of the barcode on the band. The queuing system is fantastically managed with the help of signage and staff. My children were particularly mesmerised by the alien taking payment. It was definitely an awesome start to making science fun even for the littlest person in our party.
At Bristol has a huge variety of exhibits that provide young people with a real hands on approach to scientific understanding. If I was to go through each exhibit we loved and enjoyed I’m certain we’d fill page after page so instead I’ll mention our real favourites. My children adored the section looking at the human body. Getting to listen to music through their teeth was fantastic fun and who knew we had such powerful and adaptable body parts. My youngest children our 3 year old twins loved the mock womb. After recently talking about living in mummy’s tummy it gave a real experiential understanding of what that really meant. With Bristol the home of the great and wonderful Aardman studios the centre had allocated a section of the centre to learning and understanding the art of animation. Our eldest children of 8 and 10 had great delight in designing their characters, sets and even creating their own movie animations. It gave them a real understanding into how much work it takes to create the fantastic movies Aardman produce. They couldn’t quite believe their own efforts only made mere seconds of film.
The centre have introduced an alien guided of the centre that ran frequently throughout the day. Our children loved have the full attention of a real life alien the little ones loved dressing up just like him even if the older ones felt a little more self-conscience in the alien outfits. Throughout the tour the incredibly animated member of staff had the children eating out of the palm of his hand. He explained many concepts and ideas that were both new and exciting to us all. There were a number of special exhibits that were fantastic. We spent quite some time testing daddy’s reflexes in the medical lab. We had great fun at the green house at the seed giveaway. From the littlest to the oldest we are all a family of foodies so the food lab was fantastic fun. The food not even set us home with a recipe or two to try out. We excitedly made our recommended fish cakes yesterday and they were delicious.
At Bristol has carefully considered its visitors providing a fantastic picnic room. When most families, especially large families like ours, like to do days out we also really appreciate the ability to cut costs where we can. The picnic room is bright and airy and has plenty of well looked after and clean tables to eat at. Also within the picnic room are a number of lockers an ideal place for families to store their picnic wares allowing them free hands to fully experience the hands on nature of the centre. A number of vending machines are also placed in the picnic room conveniently allowing for any additional purchases. However for those interested in eating out the centre also has a lovely cafe that provides both cold and warm items of food along with hot and cold beverages.
At the end of our visit we did the customary stop off at the centres shop. There was a real range of priced items. There were items at pocket money prices that allowed my children to have a little souvenir of their day out without breaking the bank.
Tickets (with Gift Aid): Adult £12.60 (£13.90), Child £8.10 (£8.95), Family £35.90 (£39.50)
For more information or to book tickets visit www.at-bristol.org.uk.
At-Bristol, Anchor Road, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5DB