Since the arrival of my second child 2 years ago I have had to be more mindful of finding ways to spend one-on-one time with my eldest. As he is at school in the mornings I get plenty of alone time with his sister (as I did with him when he was still at home) but once he is home it is always three of us. A few weeks back I found myself missing time with my first born. When he was younger my husband was studying part time for a few years which meant it was often just him and me going on outings or to parties, I realized I need to make a special time at least once a month when we did something together, just the two of us. A mommy date!
We had the perfect opportunity for an outing one Saturday morning when my daughter had a dad’s day at her play school and I knew JUST the place to take him – The Cape Town Science Centre!
The Cape Town Science Centre has recently reopened it’s doors after a long hiatus. Previously it was situated in Canal Walk Shopping Center, and even though my son’s previous visit had been almost 2 years prior he still talked about it often asking when he could return. I had not been on that visit so when I heard that The CTSC had reopened in Observatory I knew this would be a great surprise for him. I found out the details of how to get there – not as hard as I originally thought – it can be found on Main Road, Observatory just below Groote Schuur Hospital and is close to the train and taxi routes which makes it far more accessible to children from all areas of Cape Town.
The new space was originally designed by Max Policansky, who was a influential Modernist designer and they have tried to restore the building in a way that retains his design elements. All the exhibits are located in one large hall and everything is interactive. Train tracks and musical instruments, spaceships and chess sets, games and experiments. This is a wonderful place to take kids of all ages – on my next visit I will definitely be taking my own dad who will love to see all the fascinating things on display.
The highlight for my son was definitely the Murray & Roberts building section which has kid-sized wheel barrows, hard hats, bricks and cement (made from foam). He loved this when he was 3 and still loves it at age 5! There were lots of older kids who were enjoying “building” a house too – or maybe they were having more fun bashing it down!
Although there is a section that caters to kids younger than 4 I was glad not to have my little one with me as she would have got bored quite quickly. I would say that this is a place that is most suitable for kids older than 5 and even then quite a lot of the displays were lost on my son – maybe once he has started school and learning about science they will be more interesting – or then again maybe not especially if the building section is still there to distract him…. I think I have an idea of what he will be when he grows up!!
The highlight for me was the life-size replica of Mark Shuttleworth’s Soyuz space capsule. It was amazing but also quite scary to look inside and realize how small the space is that 3 people were hurtling through space in!!
“Never tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon”
The Cape Town Science Centre is a great spot to remember on rainy weekends or in school holidays when they run special activities like building robots, extracting DNA from onions and competitions to see who can build the tallest tower from spaghetti and marshmallows. Special events during term time run twice a month and themed around events happening in Cape Town. Be warned though that it is very popular, so go early or later in the day! Let the kids run riot in the center while you have a civilized cup of coffee at the coffee shop (just remember to bring cash – I didn’t!) There is also a separate room that can be hired for birthday parties, a great option which I will be considering when his birthday rolls around in October!
School groups get a discount and the option of being shown around by a staff member. This is a great place for an outing so tell your kids teacher – and offer to lift to that one 😉 you won’t be bored!
Cape Town Science Centre
370B Main Road
Opening times: Monday – Sunday: 9am – 4:30pm
Youth (3 – 18): R 38 pp
Adults: R 38 pp
Students: R 38 pp
Pensioners: R 15 pp
Groups (10 or more and must book in advance): R 33 pp
Family Package (4 people): R 132
Annual membership fees:
Unlimited entry to the Centre for a year
Please note that the prices are subject to change so rather call ahead to confirm.