Head to the Science Oxford Centre for a unique, science-themed day. Highly recommended!!
The Science Oxford Centre claims to be the UK’s first indoor–outdoor primary science education centre with a hands-on Exploration Zone and 15 acres woodland and ponds. It is a mini version of The lookout discovery centre in Bracknell, which has probably been around for much longer, so I am not sure why they say they are the first one, perhaps because it has an indoor and outdoor section (but so does Bracknell).. Anyways…it doesn’t matter at all.. We first went when Ay was 4 years old and I seriously did not anticipate him to enjoy it as much as he did (he didn’t want to come out after our session was up) but I thought 5+and those with interest in science will have a real blast! We went again today (after almost a year) and I must say Ay loved it and did not want to get out after two hours 🙂 There is something for all ages and that’s the beauty of it 🙂
They had a water table outdoors which Ay spent ages playing in. We had never seen it before so it is probably just a summer feature but a lot of fun nonetheless. He kept building and releasing dams and juggling/balancing balls on the fountain. We did get wet, so be prepared with a change of clothes or take a water proof with you.
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The inside is as fascinating as ever. It is “just one” large room on one floor and as you enter, you do wonder if the “2 hours” you are meant to “Discover, experiment and play in the Exploration Zone” will be enough. The answer is no!! Because you will want more!!!
Children can get hands on with a range of exhibits –create and test flying designs at the Air Table, marvel at momentum with spinning discs at the Turntable & try to beat the Scarf-shooter! Mini-engineers can build a giant magnetic ball run or test what’s hot with the Curious Camera. Budding botanists can examine mini-beasts and plants magnified under microscopes, or play a game of ‘Guess What?’ and try to spot the fossilised dino-poop.
The Scarf shooter and Sand sculpture held our attention the most like before but this time Ay also spend ages building his marble run (to the point that he stole the tracks from the other walls to put on his- luckily there were no other children at the time). He also took his time trying to make his perfect “fly-er” for the air table. The circuit makers were awesome too; we cheated in the more complicated ones but we could do some on our own. He lighted up like a bulb himself when he could make the bulb light or fan spin.. ABSOLUTELY amazing to light up their curiosity and interest in STEM!
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After the exploration Zone, we built butterfly feeder outside, then picked up an activity sheet and wandered around the trails on the 15-acre woodland. The paths were so well marked with arrows, that my son (who, you all know by now, likes to lead the way) could actually take me around the whole trail without any help. There’s a little boardwalk around the pond (ideal for pond dipping) and a beehouse (which you could only admire from a distance). You can stay in the woodland for as long as you want, before or after your two hours in the exploration zone.
There are Family Days every Saturday and on selected days during school holidays. It is becoming quite popular, so I would recommend booking ahead in advance if you are planning to go.
🗺 Address: Science Oxford Centre, Stansfeld Park, Quarry Rd, OX3 8SB
🎟 Charges apply. We paid 6£pp (Under 3 free)-includes two hours in the Exploration Zone and access to woodland all day. Please see website for more uptodate prices
📅 open for Family Days every Saturday over Summer. Please see website for more uptodate information
🚘 Free parking
🍕No Refreshments when we went but Café will be open on Saturdays from 21st August (as per website)
🧺 Picnic allowed
🦽 Buggy doable except the woodland trail
🐕 Dogs not allowed in the main room
Shotover country park as well as CS Lewis Nature reserve are really close by, so you can easily make it into an all day adventure.
There is also a very small Headington Quarry play area nearby or you can go to the Bury Knowles park.