The first time I visited the Science Oxford Centre for a Saturday family day was on the last weekend before lockdown and little did I know how long it would be before we would return. We finally made it back last weekend and it still rates as one of our favourite Oxford attractions.
The Science Oxford Centre is the UK’s first indoor–outdoor primary science education centre with a hands-on Exploration Zone and 15 acres woodland and ponds. It’s open during the week term time for school trips and for the public with their Family Days on a Saturday. These do book out quickly so worth planning ahead.
Science Oxford Centre Exploration Zone
The standout immediate wow factor on entering is the scarf shooter. Stuff a scarf through one of the holes and it’s quickly sucked up and along transparent tubes and shot out the other end. There are levers to control the direction and great fun for all ages.
All the exhibits are very hands on and there are really friendly staff there who were great at engaging with my kids. Even as an adult you’ll find yourself drawn in. We had a lot of fun experimenting with the magnetic ball run on the wall, creating different routes and getting the ball to travel where we had planned.
My just turned 9 year old son was drawn to the electric circuits and kept returning to learn more. There are 6 challenges with the answers hidden beneath the instruction board. Can you make a signal light turn on? How about making the bell ring?
Each interactive science display is unique and you’ll find your kids are learning without even realising. Learning about fossils and gem stones is just that bit more exciting when you turn it into a game of Guess Who?
The microscopes are great as they link up to a large screen. There’s plenty to inspect and being able to view on a screen means you can explore together as well as being easier for younger kids who struggle to keep one eye closed while peering through a microscope.
A Family Day at the Science Oxford Centre lasts for 2 hours for the Exploration Zone but you can spend as much time as you like in their woodland.
Woodland Trails at the Science Oxford Centre
Over 100 years ago, local vicar John Stansfield bought the woodland area at the Science Oxford Centre to create a rural refuge for the urban poor of his Oxford parish. He believed that access to the countryside was essential for the education, health and welfare of young people. It’s been named Stansfield Park after him and provides a fantastic opportunity to explore the wonders of science and the natural world outside.
Right next to the Science Oxford Centre is a pond with weaving boardwalk that’s easy to navigate and viewing platforms. It’s the perfect spot to be still, quiet and see what you can spot.
Head off to explore further with one of three marked trails, they’re all of different lengths so you can choose one depending on how little the legs are with you. There are coloured arrows along the way to guide you which are always a great motivator for my kids to follow.
Science Oxford Centre Saturday Clubs
As well as the Family Days, Science Oxford run regular interactive science and tech clubs for kids and tweens aged 5-12. Try out science-inspired creative activities from coding to crafting, investigating and inventing. Creative Coding Club and Saturday Science Club will return in autumn 2021.
Where is the Science Oxford Centre?
The Science Oxford Centre is situated in Headington, Oxford with ample free parking on site.
Be inspired and discover the magic of science at this family friendly Oxfordshire attraction.