If I had to write a one sentence review of the Look Out Discovery Centre it would be “STEM heaven with a side helping of the great outdoors.” When I first arrived I was worried I’d made a mistake in driving all the way to Bracknell because it’s quite small. There’s “only” 5 zones and they’re not really that big but they’ve packed a hell of a lot into that space.
There’s a water and woodland zone. This one has got tons of hands-on science experiments related to, well, water and woodland. It’s all about the kind of science where kids don’t even know they’re learning. There’s a little river where you can build dams, use a lock, sail boats down rapids and make water umbrellas. There’s a machine where you can make a whirlpool, you can learn about the science of bubbles, and other tree-related experiments.
The next zone at the Look Out Discovery Centre is Build it! This is their construction zone. There’s a house that’s currently mid-construction where you can use the giant bricks to build to walls and you can help to slate the roof. Also you can design your own house at the design table or drive a digger. Smallest child absolutely LOVED the diggers, I could barely drag her away. All three of the kids really liked designing their own houses too.
“Forces and Movement” is the biggest zone (I think). It’s also the most popular by the look of it. There are lots of experiments to do here, all about forces and movement. There’s a giant piano, animation station, a little supermarket and ball pool for younger children. There’s a large colouring station here too. The most obvious thing in the room is the hot air balloon. Middle child was ridiculously proud of himself when he first set it off. Whilst most of the experiments are, of course, aimed at older children there were still lots of things for smallest child to get involved in.
Body and Perception is on the first floor. I think the title is a bit of a misnomer – there’s only a couple of exhibits relating to bodies. There are however two really epic exhibits up here. One is the wind table. You can make your own “helicopter” and then put it on the massive fan and see how high and long it will fly for. I honestly think the boys could have stayed here for hours on end. Even smallest child got on board and kept throwing random bits of paper on top of the fan to see if they’d fly.
In the same zone there is also a wall where you construct your own ball run. Someone had already built one and smallest child spent ages popping balls into the air chute and watching it going round and round. If you want to build one yourself then there’s lots of different tubes and modules on the huge magnetic wall for you to make whatever you want to.
The final zone to review at the Look Out Discovery Centre is the light and sound zone. This is noisy and chaotic, whilst also being dark with bright lights. I mention this because I know there will be some kids who won’t like this. There are only a few exhibits in this room but they’re quite spectacular. There’s lots of lights and mirrors, there’s a harp you can play by interrupting the lights and you can capture your own shadow. The most popular exhibit has to be the infra-red camera. As well as the camera they also have a hair dryer so you can heat up your hair and make it glow white. You can imagine how much fun that is!!!
In the nicest possible way what idiot come up with this as an inclusion for the Look Out Discovery Centre? It’s a 22 meter high tower make of jelly and sticks, or at least that’s what it felt like at the top. I’ve been up the treetop walkway at Kew Gardens (18m), I’ve climbed to the top of the 33m high monument at Ashridge. These were all fine. I spent now more than 5 seconds at the top of this monstrosity before marching all three kids down to the bottom. And it had taken ages to get up there because smallest child wanted to walk up each of the 5,000 steps. I literally stopped long enough to take this photo for you before retreating. The sacrifices I make for this blog!!!
We weren’t alone in disliking it at the top. 4 other families went up in the time it took me to get smallest child back down the stairs again. However they all came down pretty quickly.
We got tickets for the current daily show, which is all about dinosaurs. They run these shows several times a day in the Berkshire school holidays and at weekends. It cost £1.95 per person and the shows last about 40 minutes. It’s an interactive workshop all about one subject (ie dinosaurs). The lady running the show was really lively and enthusiastic, controlling the kids well. A nice little touch, at the end she pointed out that if you took your show sticker to the shop you’d get a 10% discount, but she made all the kids cover their ears before telling you.
Just to give you an idea of suitability; Biggest child (9 1/2) got involved but was a bit “meh” about it despite liking dinosaurs. Middle child (7 1/2) LOVE, LOVE, LOVED it and kept ranting about it afterwards. Smallest child (2) was really excited at the start and did get involved but she started to lose interest after about 25 minutes.
What else is on site?
We spent over 5 hours in the discovery centre. The kids (and I) had so much fun and we really did discover lots. If you have the time (or the energy) then make sure you explore Swinley forest as well. As well as the woodland there’s Go Ape segway and treetop adventures, bike trails, a nature trail and lots more. If you only have half an hour then you absolutely have to have a play in the three adventure playgrounds at the side of the Look Out Discovery Centre, that review is here. They’re really good.
The Look Out Discovery Centre Review
5 / 5 – This is a really good day out for any families that are interested in STEM. I imagine it’s also excellent for any home educators or childminders as well. In additional to the centre there’s lots to do outdoors as well. The advantage of not being a big site is that little legs won’t get tired, but little brains will! I even got a lie-in the next day.
£7.90 per adult, £5.40 per child. Under 4’s free. Family ticket (2A + 2C or 1A + 3C) £21.20. Term time parent and toddler tickets £6.80.
Parking / How to get there
Parking – Decent amount on-site. There is over flow parking and we had no issues parking at all. £4 all day but if you’re show your receipt when buying tickets you get a £2 discount. Cards are accepted. They do have a very vigilant traffic warden, we saw her pretty much every time we went back to the car but she was also waiting around to see if someone returned to their car before giving them a ticket which is more than some places do!!
Address – Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, RG12 7QW
On-site including baby change. No toilet in the baby change that we used. One set is used by both woodland visitors and centre visitors so I imagine that may get muddy in winter. There are toilets within the centre as well.
No food allowed within the centre but there is a cafe on-site and there’s seating outside for picnics. Some of the seating is under cover.
I’m Vicky and I am a mum of three living in Aylesbury. I set up Free Time with the Kids to review free and cheap family days out in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, mainly because I kept forgetting all the fabulous places that were recommended to me!! I love getting out and about with the kids (and hubby of course) and we have adventures all over the place. My reviews tell you all the things you need to know about the family days out and activites we’ve done such as how much it costs, if there’s parking, toilets and if there’s a cafe or if picnics are allowed. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook
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