Friday, 6 April 2012

Day Trip to the Discovery Center

Today is Good Friday and like all Good Fridays in Germany, everything is shut. Not even the cinemas are open.
So like all Good Fridays we decided to take the opportunity to have real quality family time and go on a day trip that everyone of us would enjoy. After thinking long and hard about this and having the one or other short discussion on whether or not a suggestion is a good or bad idea, we all agreed to cross the border to the Netherlands and revisit Continium in Limburg, NL:

Clicking on the image will redirect to Continium homepage.

This user to be a Technology Museum but a few years  back they decided to change it into a Discovery Center. It's great for all people interested in science and technology. This center is so great because it's explicitly wanted that the guests try out the experiments, games, etc.. Great for the kids to have a hands-on experience with science and  technology. And it's extremely children-friendly!

 You have two main areas in Continium: the standard experiment and exhibition zone and the changing exhibitions.
In the standard area you have main themes in which the displays and experiments sometimes change but without any special regularity. It's fun each time you go in there though. There is also a Hall of Fame in which the most special objects are put on display in a huge room for themselves. These mainly have something to do with the main theme of the standard area. Today it was mining and Dutch porcelain.
The changing exhibition area is currently under the motto Get Smart - entertain your brain. It was amazing. A lot of mind games, puzzles and great experiments that show you that your brain is far more complex than we would ever dream of. My favourite experiment was the revolving tunnel. You had a few steps to a bridge that lead through it's center - not moving one inch. The inside of the tunnel was painted with black stripes and the tunnel itself was revolving around the bridge. Nothing very fancy from the outside but one step into this tunnel and I was hanging onto the bridge railing. I could not believe this, how an optical effect could influence your sense of balance that much that it doesn't matter if you know that the ground beneath your feet is not moving - you will continue to topple over until you close your eyes.
That's not all there is to continium. There is also a theatre area in which various topics are presented to the visitors, a 3D cinema that shows short documentary films  (for example on dinosaurs), a small restaurant for a snack inbetween (also with the possibility to sit outside and with a small kids playground) and of course, The Lab.

Today we finally had enough time to let the kids select a lab packet. Our 10 year old selected glass engravement and our 6 year old chose to build a morse code buzzer (it's louder than our fire alarm ...). ,
Anyhow,  after selecting their packet, the boys were handed out their building boxes and we all took a seat at the lab tables. The whole process of building the morse code buzzer and engraving the glass were explained in word and with pictures, making it really easy for my pre-schooler to see himself what the next steps in the building process were.
These packets just took them about half an hour but there are many more to choose from. They are all sorted for certain age groups so the kids have enough to choose from and there will almost certainly be at least one thing that they would like. Some of the packets I saw today was Monster Slime, Hair Gel, Wall Clock, Solar Powered Fan,... taking everything from about 30 - 90 minutes time to complete. The best thing about this though is that you have everything you need for such 'mini projects' available at once and you don't have the superglue marks on your own kitchen table ;-) The kids are as proud as punch with their work!

The discovery center was not that full up with people today, probably because it was a normal working day in the Netherlands. But there were two childrens' birthday parties being held there: one for the age group around 7 and the other one we met in The Lab were about 12. It was a great day out for all of us - parents included - and will not be the last visit to Continium!!


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