We The Curious

Huge bubble machine, construction site with big plastic red bricks, creepy crawlie insects and crocodiles scurrying across an electronic map and a comforting womb space which gently rocked the baby…something for everyone at We The Curious
The city centre hands-on science museum At Bristol reopened last September under its new guise to ‘create a culture of curiosity’. 
And this week, we were invited! Promising a revised foyer, café and shop, fresh branding and logo, new ground floor exhibitions and a revised focus on the innate nature of science in our everyday lives, the new centre certainly didn’t fail to deliver.
With six of us attending, the youngest being just three and the oldest a grandparent, it was a pleasure to see a variety of exhibitions and activities suited to a range of ages. 
The downstairs installations included a water feature that could be manipulated at the turn of a wheel or pull of a lever, a greenhouse growing real plants, an interactive kitchen for hands-on learning and a dark room which this week displayed a cinematic experience titled Notes On Blindness. 
There was also a pop-up studio themed Memorials To Change, which was thoughtful and inspiring thanks to its focus on storytelling from the past. 
In the studio we got to hear a recording of a man who fondly remembers his first dog – a testimonial that could be understood and appreciated by the young and old alike. 
Upstairs, the fun continued. 
The night sky was being shown at the Planetarium which with its plush seating you feel like a spaceman (or woman) exploring the universe in a fun but factual guide to the cosmos.
Older children get to wear 3D glasses, so they really experience travelling through the Milky Way, with a bit of classical learning and star hopping as the constellations are mapped out for March by astronomer presenter Ginny.
Aardman’s creative corner allowed children and adults to enjoy a spot of colouring and crafting, while the Bob the Builder-style soft play gave smaller children the opportunity to build and demolish in a safe and stimulating environment. 
While the experience was filled with fun and intrigue, we couldn’t help but notice the majority of the activities and installations had remained unchanged since the centre opened in 2000. 
In fact, the only major changes we noticed were the interactive copper wall upon entry and the upstairs Lab. 
It became apparent that the changes made during the transition were mostly attitudinal, with staff recognising a significant cultural shift in the way we have come to access science since the millennium. 
The year 2000 preceded the millennials’ invention of social media, smart technology and instant gratification, and was a time when science was only ever taught over a Bunsen burner by greying teachers. 
The centre’s original purpose was to therefore make science more accessible. 
Now, it has recognised that science plays a much more pivotal role in everyday life than ever before and so works to enhance curiosity through hands-on fun, moving kids away from their iPhones and into a different kind of cause-and-effect environment that stimulates the imagination. 
All-in-all, We The Curious is an intriguing and enjoyable day out for the family, and has succeeded in its mission to reinvent its purpose and continue to engage members of the public in the wonders of science.
Our What’s On and Young Peeps pages have the summer schedules and links to booking tickets online.

Emma Rowlands
mum and Open University science undergraduate
March 2018