A seasoned museum-goer, I expect everything to be highly visual and immediately accessible. The Catalyst Science Discovery Centre isn’t like that and my first impression was that it was a bit dated. The reality is that the exhibits are actually pretty good and well worth taking a proper look at.
From UV lights, to body heat experiments, solar panels to water valves, if you take the time, you will definitely get a lot out of it. Catalyst is largely aimed at older children but there are free backpacks for younger visitors. You will need to ask for these from reception. There are also various themed trails for five to twelve-year-olds, but again you need to ask.
The Upstairs Observatory has games, microscopes and panoramic views of both the Welsh Hills and the Pennines. On the way up you’ll find The Puzzle Room with plenty of hands-on activities which my boys all enjoyed. The only disappointing part of our trip was the 3D theatre so we left before the end – heading off to the main attraction of our visit, a workshop making lava lamps! Set in a modern, bright, discovery lab, this was fab! The staff were great with the little ones, but the workshops are particularly good for older children. After a couple of water experiments, we got down to the lava business! The boys loved it and were desperate to recreate them the moment they got home.
Outside there’s a new, large wooden play structure and a zip wire alongside the original small play area for the younger ones. We took a picnic which we ate outside, but there is also a reasonably-priced café on site, serving hot and cold meals.
Catalyst is an educational centre, with plenty of fun activities and workshops available; from rockets and the universe, to blood and slime! Check the website to plan your trip before you set off and you wonʼt be disappointed.
Term time: Tues-Fri 10am-4pm and Bank Holidays. Sat & Sun 10am-5pm. School Holidays: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm.
Adult £4.95, Child £3.95, under 4s free, Family (4) £15.95, Family (5) £17.95.
Catalyst Discovery Centre, Mersey Road, Widnes, Cheshire WA8 0DF
Tel: 0151 420 1121 catalyst.org.uk