Tag Archives: spacesuit

USA 2019 – 14 Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC (2019-10-27) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 21 MAR 2021

There’s nothing more disappointing than finding your most eagerly anticipated tourist sight or experience covered in scaffolding and men at work signs. This then is exactly what awaited me as I, who suffers from a life long love and admiration for all things aeronautical, shuffled across the National Mall to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, having just spent the last couple of hours wandering through the halls of the incredible National Museum of American History. Clearly then the grey skies, dripping trees, and puddles of fresh rain water on the concrete perfectly suited that very moment when I turned the corner and discovered my eagerly awaited unicorn under all the cranes, scaffolding, and hard hat signs.

Of course, just because massive swathes of its space is closed for renovation, it doesn’t mean that the museum has entirely shut up shop, and so I joined the throng of excited visitors, cleared through security, and stepped into the impressive Milestones of Flight entrance hall, decked out with an incredible array of historical aircraft, including gems like the Spirit of St Louis, the Bell X-1, SpaceShipOne, and even the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia!

From there I wandered through the interactive, kid-focused How Things Fly exhibit, followed by a jaw-dropping walk about the Space Race floor that is devoted to all things rockets, including the infamous German V-2 rocket. Next to that was a hall dedicated to exploring the universe, examining solar systems and the instruments that we have developed to better study it, and across the passage, the Moving Beyond Earth immersive exhibition that places you “in orbit” as part of the shuttle and space-station era – allowing you to explore recent human spaceflight and future possibilities.

At the time of my visit, the only halls open on the second floor included one looking at the origin of powered flight through the lens of the Wright Brothers and their 1903 Wright Flyer, and another that focuses on Time and Navigation, detailing how revolutions in timekeeping over the years have influenced how we find our way. Hello GPS!

And unfortunately that was that. With about half of its floor space lost to the ongoing renovations, and almost the entirety of its collection of planes now stored at the museum’s secondary Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in nearby Virginia, this particular museum experience, while as incredibly interesting and engaging as what it was, just didn’t have what I was really looking forward to seeing the most: airplanes! (Spoiler alert though – the very last thing that I did manage to do on this particular USA 2019 business trip as I waited for my plane to depart from Dulles International Airport, was catch a bus to a certain spot in Virginia…)

Puzzles and Play at the Cape Town Science Centre in Observatory (2017-11-04) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 30 APR 2018

If you are looking to entertain your kids (and maybe yourself) on a day out when perhaps the weather is not all that wonderful in the Mother City, then a trip to the Cape Town Science Centre in Observatory comes highly, highly, recommended.

Back in 1998, mobile phone giant MTN provided start-up funding for a science centre in Cape Town. This lead to the creation of the Interactive Science Foundation being established, who then oversaw the opening of the hugely popular and successful MTN Sciencentre in the Canal Walk shopping mall, where it operated from 2000 to 2010.

(Excluding its outreach programmes, the MTN Sciencentre received more than a million visitors through its doors over that period!)

As the agreements and leases all came to an end in 2010, the innovative science centre closed up shop, rebranded as the Cape Town Science Centre, leased the old Lamson-Paragon Building in Observatory (from the Western Cape Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works), and opened the doors to its newly refurbished premises in December 2011.

And it hasn’t looked back since.

The reason for this is of course that this is simply a fantastic space to learn while playing. There are seemingly hundreds of colourful, cleverly constructed interactive puzzle/science exhibits spread across the expansive floor, all of which teach fundamental aspects of science, technology, mathematics and engineering through some seriously fun interactions.

Both kids and adults can spend hours working their way through everything offer, and I can quite confidently state that even you WILL emerge having learnt something new on the day. (Unless of course you actually are a physics teacher or something like that…)

The cleverness of the installations, the thought provoking discussions that playing with the exhibits leads to is just wonderful, and honestly, both girls (and let’s be honest, and their dad)  absolutely loved the experience.

The Science Centre runs a number of interesting programmes, holiday activities, and even hosts birthday parties – perfect for those little ones who are always interested in taking things apart to see how they work!

It’s a seriously enjoyable outing that should entertain both young and old, and is also good enough to kill more than just a couple of hours in your day! So basically impossible not to recommend as a kid-friendly outing option in Cape Town then…

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Bonus: Oh, and they even have Mark Shuttleworth’s spacesuit on display, which is pretty cool in itself.

(For those of you who need a slight jog of the memory, back in 2002 Mark became the second self-funded space tourist and the first-ever South African in space, blasting into orbit aboard a Russian Soyuz TM-34 before docking with the International Space Station. All in all a pretty proud moment for South Africa.)

Man, I really enjoyed this outing.

Related Link: Cape Town Science Centre | Observatory | Cape Town