Thursday, 23 February 2012

Centre of the cell

Its taken me ages to get around to writing this, but in half term we went to a vicious venoms and poisonous parasites workshop at centre of the cell in London.

The day began with a train journey into London, or should I say Luton, where I got kicked off the train for having a cheap ticket. Turns out I'm not allowed to ride on virgin trains if I have an FCC ticket, much to my sisters amusement.

Anyway, we made it to centre of the cell, which was fantastic. They really do cater to all ages, with questions simple enough for a four year old to understand and knowledge deep enough to hit GCSE requirements and more.

The first section was called a 'pod show' and you get inside a pod which is shaped like an 8 day old embryo.

There are huge screens on the ceiling where they show videos at various points through the show. In the centre of the pod is a 'nucleus' which contains tons of touch screen interactive games. They're done simply enough that Will was easily able to identify a gene for deafness, raise a colony of bacteria, treat severe burns and even watch a simulation of himself from birth to now.

I was worried that the lights and sound might be too much for him, but they whole place (including lighting) has been specially designed to be an optimum learning environment and epilepsy safe. It was incredible to see Will's ability to concentrate and focus improve so dramatically being in a low stimulation environment. It's definitely made me more sympathetic to him wanting the curtains closed during the day when he is doing copywork. The light is just too bright for him to focus.

We then moved on to a lecture room where we got to see an experiment of what happens to blood when venom is added, and learn a bit about different venomous animals. Did you know that a jellyfish has 24 eyes? Me neither, but I do now!

We were also amazed to find out that slow loris's are one of the most deadly animals. They lick their elbows (where they secrete poisons) just before they bite you, which makes their saliva deadly toxic. Poison arrow frogs on the other hand are not actually poisonous at all. They eat poisonous insects, then excrete the poisons through their skin, so they are only ever as dangerous as the prey they have recently found.

There were some craft activities and interactive learning packs for older children, but the toddlers were happy just pottering about looking at everything and making bracelets out of 'DNA' beads.

Then as we headed home we stopped in a bakery at St Pancras and bought some really extravagant cupcakes.

We brought them home and had just enough time for a tea party with all the teddies before bed.

A fantastic day out which I hope to repeat again soon.

To see all of our photos, check out our 'travels' blog.


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