Leading science hothouse Life has created a vibrant new play area which will allow under-7s to explore a garden, mess around in a café and kitchen, grow vegetables and dig through rubbish to organise the recycling.
Opened by an impressed Professor Robert Winston, the development – funded by a £300,000 grant from community environmental group SITA – aims to stimulate the Newcastle venue’s youngest visitors, gleaning advice from fellow centres around the world in a bid to create an attraction to inspire.
“Parents of young children know that the most important activity that children can do is play,” observed Life’s Linda Conlon. “At this age, it underpins all their development and learning, which is why we’re very excited about the new developments.
“They allow younger children to let their imagination and curiosity run free while enjoying, exploring and understanding science in a manner that is meaningful to them.”
Part of a wider range of initiatives for the age group, the play area follows hot on the heels of a new eight-minute planetarium film, The Naughty Monsters, explaining the origins of rainbows and the location of the sun at night.
“It’s important that we encourage creativity and exploration at a young age,” said Winston. “This helps children make sense of their world.
“Life has developed an excellent facility for its younger visitors, allowing them to explore activities which are all everyday things for grown-ups but are very new and exciting when you’re only four.”
The area immediately underwent testing from some tough taskmasters. “The children have really enjoyed their experience today,” reported one teacher from Hotspur Primary School, whose reception class children tried it out.
“The new area is very age appropriate and uses life-like props to encourage role play in a colourful environment.”