Scienceworks Melbourne puts fun first, learning second and, as a result, it is a brilliantly interactive museum for kids.
Race Olympians, kick virtual soccer balls and design cars of the future. Rather than telling kids how awesome science is, it invites them inside it, to operate science-powered activities and make them a part of the experiment.
This fabulous science museum wasn’t around when I was a kid (it opened in 1992), so I have loved discovering it over recent years with my kids.
Find other fun things to do in Melbourne here.
Active kids will LOVE Sportsworks. It’s my kids’ favourite area.
Get out of breath racing Cathy Freeman, scoring virtual soccer goals, snowboarding or trying to get a netball or football through the right hole. Or test your reaction times, strength or hand-eye coordination in an array of fun games.
There’s enough to do here for a couple of hours.
Think Ahead – Computer-aided design
Enter the technology age in the Think Ahead area with a variety of screen-based activities.
Design a futuristic car, a robot or even add some super powers to your own body!
Nitty Gritty Super City
Upstairs appears very much like a play centre, but there are plenty of lessons being learnt while the kids think they’re playing. It is fantastic for kids aged about 7 years and under, although both of mine had a great time here on our most recent visit, aged 9 and 7.
Pretend play is the most popular activity, with the Build It and Cafe areas particularly attractive. Build It will have the kids transporting soft blocks around using ropes, pulleys, wheelbarrows and conveyor belts. They even sometimes manage to work as teams!
Operating the cash register, coffee machine and serving customers is the order of the day in the Cafe.
Other areas let the kids play with musical instruments and rubbish recycling mechanics.
For a small extra cost you can buy tickets to a Scienceworks Planetarium show. These are perfectly timed during the early afternoon when the other areas of the museum can get a bit crowded.
There are a range of short family-friendly movies shown on the overhead screen, each tailored to a different age group. For instance, Tycho to the Moon (suitable for ages 3 to 8) was showing when we were last there and was an adorable story about a dog who wants to go to the moon.
Try not to go to sleep in the comfy layback chairs!
If you have kids 6 years and up, then the Lightning Room is where it’s at. Like the planetarium it costs a little extra, but is definitely worth it!
Inside this humble shed is a Faraday Cage, which means they can create lightning in a very controlled environment. While it is super safe, the noise and light is pretty thrilling and is why it is not suitable for smaller kids.
An entertaining presenter runs a dramatic series of experiments, which are fun for kids, but with enough science to make it interesting for adults. I found it fascinating!
Other good stuff
Plenty of outdoor space and a playground mean active kids can keep busy. You could even save some money by bringing a picnic to enjoy on the grass. Although the on-site cafe offers a good range of food and drinks.
There’s also a brilliant gift shop with lots of science kits and books to continue the fun at home.
There’s plenty of parking on-site and in surrounding streets.
Or take the short train ride from central Melbourne, alight at Spotswood and it’s a flat 10 minute walk.
If you need accommodation in Melbourne, check out my top 8 kid-friendly hotels.
Plan your visit
When we visited on Christmas Eve one year we had the place almost to ourselves, but last time was during the April school holidays and it was INSANELY busy. While there are staff around, they don’t supervise each activity and there is no queuing system, so kindness and generosity seem to go out the window as parents, grandparents and kids all push in.
So plan your visit!
I recommend arriving before it opens. Even consider buying your tickets online, because then you and Museum Victoria members get to go to a separate entrance with a much shorter line.
Book tickets to the Lightning Room and/or Planetarium for early afternoon. Head to Sportsworks, Think Ahead and Nitty Gritty Super City first while they’re relatively quiet. Have lunch, then, while Sportsworks etc is super busy, go and relax in your booked session.
Adults (17 years and over) $14, Kids Free
Planetarium or Lightning Room $8
Visit their website for more information – Scienceworks.
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