9 November 2011
Whilst Magna has many of the features of a typical science musuem, the Magna Science Adventure Centre is in some ways quite unique. The main difference is that it based in a former Sheffield Steel Works and attempts to recreate some of the sights and sounds as if it were still a working factory.
The Big Melt is the name of the show which runs several times during the day. It is a light and sound show of the old arc furnace. The show includes some flames and pyrotechnics as you can see in the photo below. Young children may find the Big Melt a bit frightening, but it's a popular show with older kids and adults.
The science and technology side of the museum is in four different zones around the centre. These are based around Air, Earth, Fire and Water. Each of these has their own pavilion in different places around the building. For example the air pavilion is appropriately located in a giant air tent which looks as though it's floating.
Almost all the exhibits are hands-on, with some particularly interesting exhibits including a fire tornado and full size JCB backhoe digger, complete with working joystick controls.
One of the favourites with younger children is the water zone with boats to play with, water cannons, pumps and waves. Aprons are provided, but children (and grown-ups) are likely to get a little wet in that zone.
The only negative thing is with queues for some of the exhibits. There is always plenty to do, but some areas are particularly popular. The Earth Zone with the wheelbarrows and falling rocks was the one that had most queues. It wasn't too bad on the day we visited on a weekend out-of-season, but even then there was some wait for a wheelbarrow.
If there wasn't enough inside there is also a huge play area outside the museum called SciTek (one of the largest in Europe) and a water playground called AquaTek. Make sure you bring a spare set of clothes if planning to use the AquaTek - the kids love running through the water even if it is a cold wet day.
Whilst the museum is good to visit when it's a wet day, if it's sunny then there is plenty to do at SciTek and AquaTek.
Entry is fairly reasonably priced, but also includes 12 months free entry, although you will need to pay separately for SciTek and AquaTek after the first visit.
There is a restaurant inside the museum providing good quality food at a reasonable price.
Magna Science Adventure Centre is a great place to visit and with the 12 month free entry is great value. Particularly suitable for wet raining days, but with some great outdoor playgrounds as well.
The only thing is watch for the queues, particularly at busy times. I haven't visited on a bank holiday, but I guess it gets pretty busy then.
I'd certainly recommend a visit if you are in the Sheffield, South Yorkshire area.