Thursday last week, Gavin and I paid a visit to the National Science Center. It is located opposite the Bukit Kiara Equestrian Club near Hartamas (see map). The opening hours are Saturday to Thursday 9am-5pm (closed Friday). Entry is RM6 for adults and RM3 for children. For children under 6 years old, admission is free.
After our disappointing visit to the Planetarium, I was pleasantly surprised by how much there was to see at the National Science Center. Aside from the two levels inside the center, there are some parklands surrounding the center that appear to be open to the public. Gavin was tiring before we had even made it to level 2 so we didn’t get to check out the park.
Even though he is probably a little too young to understand, I took Gavin through the main exhibits where we learned about the solar system, the night sky, genetics, the human body, motion, sound, levers, light, and matter. I took his cue and moved along according to his interests.
The whole idea of taking Gavin to the Science Center was to expose him to science. Encouraging a child’s natural curiosity is an important part of fostering a life long interest in learning. Most of the time, he was generally only interested in pushing the buttons which would reward him with some sort of activity.
He was most interested in a rather large contraption which taught about inertia and momentum. By spinning a wheel, you could move a ball along a series of pulley systems, after which its momentum would carry it on. Unfortunately, the only two balls in the system fell onto the floor and we weren’t allowed to go in to pick them up so that was the end of that lesson. Not that Gavin didn’t try to. Luckily, I was just in time to stop him from scrambling underneath the wire cage commando-style.
Outside the exhibits, there was a spider enclosure that taught about all the different species of spiders. The spider tunnels lead out to a large area of puzzles…
…and a funny mirror which distorted appearances. For the large part, I think Gavin seemed more interested in examining his Thomas outfit than the fact that his image had been distorted.
There is an area specifically for children age 2-6 set up classroom-style. From the looks of it, I think they run children’s programs and activities for schools. When we were there, there was a group of students from a kindergarten on excursion.
Inside the enchanted forest, there are magic button mushrooms for children to sit on while they work their way through the various activities and puzzles.
There is a submarine enclosure that teaches about bouyancy and how a submarine works. They have a periscope you can look through.
There is also a game where you pilot a submarine through the water to tag different species of marine life.
The Science Center also has a designated area for children aged 2-4 years, although the place looks like a tornado had hit it. It has a small jungle gym, a ball pit, lots of foam mats, and lots of giant puzzles for little hands.
There is a long ramp that leads up to the second level which Gavin kept calling “Gordon’s Hill” – a place on the Island of Sodor from Thomas and Friends.
The exhibits on the second level were about machines, computers, buildings – all things man-made – and the future.
We spent nearly two hours in the Science Center just working our way through the exhibits on the ground floor.
What’s the purpose of taking a toddler to the Science Center when clearly the subject matter is far beyond him? Well, for one, it’s fun. The whole idea of an excursion is to engage all his senses. Okay, so we didn’t really smell or taste anything, but he gets to see and do things we don’t normally do and that’s what learning is all about – having lots of different experiences.