As one of our most iconic, historical and educational buildings, Castlefield’s Science and Industry Museum has long been a firm-favourite whenever conversation turns to family-friendly summer holiday activities. With their newly refurbished venue recently reopened (complete with a shiny new Special Exhibitions Gallery), their team have wasted no time in delivering the goods – with a wide array of new collections, hands-on experiments and exciting festival weekenders to look forward to across the summer months. Here’s our top five picks…

Crack the codes of Top Secret's puzzle zone & activity trail

Launching alongside the museum’s reopening back in May, Top Secret brings together classified documents, authentic military objects and a host of GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) artefacts in order to paint a picture of 100 years of espionage history in the UK – from World War I to cyber security – and chronicle the evolution of key spy gadgets and devices. Alongside giving visitors the chance to explore the game-changing work of codebreaker and Manchester icon Alan Turing, this new interactive exhibition also features a puzzle zone where kids of all ages can test their codebreaking skills and challenge their friends. Meanwhile, the Top Secret Trail (which can be collected for free at the venue or printed off at home) utilises observation and teamwork skills to transform little ones into bonafide super sleuths.

Learn new skills at Get Curious sessions | From 27 Jul | Various times | Free

School may be out – but that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. The museum’s Get Curious sessions are an opportunity for kids and families to speak to some STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) experts and learn eye-opening facts and skills through interactive experiments and activities. What’s more, this summer’s edition of Get Curious takes its cues from Top Secret, serving up a range of activities and games developed by the cyber and security experts at GCHQ. Reckon you have what it takes to crack the codes, unpick the puzzles and emerge as Manchester’s next top spy? There’s only one way to find out. Plus, if you’re eager for more you can revisit on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 August to get involved with two climate change sessions coinciding with this year’s Manchester Science Festival Family Weekender.

Become a brain-box with Science Stops

Which of your favourite foods is responsible for the largest greenhouse gas emissions? How did punch cards weave the world of industrial factories into the computer revolution? Discover the answers to both of these questions – and a whole lot more – by exploring the various Science Stops scattered throughout the Science and Industry Museum. These fact-filled experiences rely on the extensive knowledge of the museum’s in-house Explainers to share little-known facts and insightful tidbits on a range of topics via games, demonstrations and informal conversations. With Top Secret providing spy-themed tip-offs and the upcoming Manchester Science Festival Family Weekender cluing visitors in on essential climate change information – there’s never been a better time to say hello to an Explainer and learn something new.

Explore screenings, solar vehicles & more at the Manchester Science Festival Family Weekender | Fri 20 - Sun 22 Aug | 10am - 5pm | Free

This one’s a must for your summer holiday schedule. The Science Festival Family Weekender features three jam-packed days of screenings, showcases, interactive events and learning designed to get people thinking about the impact and future of climate change. In addition to the venue’s familiar Get Curious and Science Stop experiences, visitors will also be able to enjoy a special appearance by CBBC star Grace Webb, presenter of Grace’s Amazing Machines, who will be on-hand to introduce audiences to some amazing solar powered machines in a live-edition of her popular show. A variety of drop-in events will also be available – including screenings of kids’ favourites like Hey Duggee and Blue Peter followed by some hands-on activities inspired by each – while Sow The City invites visitors to plant their own vegetables. The best part? It’s all free – all you have to do is book your ticket via the link below.

And don't forget some tried & tested family favourites

As if all these amazing summer activities at the Science and Industry Museum weren’t good enough, there’s also the venue’s familiar family favourites that make a visit to this iconic space educational, memorable and a whole lot of fun. Get experimental in the museum’s interactive gallery and find out if you’ve got what it takes to lift a life-size mini before witnessing your own skeleton ride a bike right in front of your eyes. Discover how many Manchester homes can be lit using nothing but waste water as a power source, and test your reactionary skills against speed of light. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? Meanwhile, if you head to the Textiles Gallery, you’ll be able to step back in time to trace the history, legacy and impact of Manchester’s cotton trade by getting up close to some of the iconic machines that powered this regional revolution.

Tue 13 Jul
Simon Bland
Published on:
Tue 13 Jul 2021