It wouldn’t be a new city without a science museum, so today we went to visit the Copernicus Science Centre. It has only been open three months (and isn’t yet finished) so we were quite excited to see a state of the art Museum. Unfortunately the pent up demand from Warsovians meant that on a Tuesday we had to queue for a good hour and a half before we finally managed to buy a ticket.
Still, at least we were in a formerly communist country, so the queuers were the politest I have seen so far this trip. So with the caveat of our poor start, here is our standard review.
1. The Museum must engage and excite – the Copernicus centre had an extraordinary range of hands on exhibits. We travelled on a flying carpet, lay on a bed of nails, made the biggest soap bubble I’ve ever seen, and saw a projection of what Callum and Declan will look like when they are in their 60s. Possibly because it was crowded, though, it was very hard to get the boys to stop and work out what scientific principle was being illustrated each time. It was the kind of place where there was a lot of random playing, and not so much actual scientific exploration. 7/10.
2. The exhibits must work and not baffle – sadly there were a surprising number of exhibits that were not working. Possibly because the museum is new, or possibly because adequate maintenance for their enormous attendance hasn’t been budgeted for. We estimated 10%, which is way too many in a museum like this. 6/10.
3. A play area should not substitute for teaching science in the museum. There was no play area (except an area for the under 6s that Declan was very sad to be excluded from). But some exhibits did seem to be designed purely for fun and not science. 8/10.
4. Televisions and computers are no longer, in themselves, cool, or more generally, everything should be up to date. Hard to fault this one – it would be pretty sad if a three month old museum was already out of date. 10/10.
5. Museums should tell a story (I’m going to be a harsh marker here). Although each area was broadly themed (lightzone, roots of civilization), this one was a fail for me. Too many of the exhibits were vaguely related to the ones nearby. We had a magic carpet ride (which was a mini hovercraft) next to a see saw illustrating levers, next to a water wave making machine. They are all interesting things about the mechanical world, but hard for the home educator to make a specific lesson about. Lots of fun, though! 4/10.
And for the practical things:
Cafe factor: One coffee shop at the entrance, which had excellent pastries and average coffee. When the museum is finished there will be two more coffee shops, which will be a substantial improvement.
Expense: Quite cheap – 57 zlotys for a family, which is just under A$20.
I imagine in a year’s time, when the queuing has been sorted out, and everything has been opened, if we went back this would be a much better review.