Half-term activities for techy teens
Start the weekend with a whizz around the Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt exhibition at the V&A, which wraps up on Feb 24. If you have younger ones in tow, book them on to one of the 3D design workshops running alongside the show, then let your teens loose on the arcade games. Adults will appreciate the wealth of ’90s nostalgia. How could you have forgotten about Tamagotchis?!
V&A. South Kensington. Until Feb 24. £18, £8 workshops.
Explore the universe via a planetarium show at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Watch The Sky Tonight Live, presented by an astronomer, or learn about dark matter in Phantom of the Universe. While you’re there, get a selfie straddling Earth’s eastern and western hemispheres on the Prime Meridian Line. Then wander through the Time and Longitude gallery and ponder how anyone got anywhere before satnav.
Royal Observatory. Greenwich DLR. £8, £5.35 child
Need to cover school hours? Fire Tech Camp has week-long holiday clubs including a Teen Coding with Python course for 14 to 17-year-olds (from £320). Blue Shift is running Creative Coding courses (£375) for ten to 14-year-olds. And the February Technology Camp (£345) at The London School of Mathematics & Programming sounds pretty cool – it covers programming, robotics and 3D design and printing.
Various locations and prices. For more information visit: firetechcamp.com; blueshiftcoding.com; londonsmp.co.uk.
Head to the Royal Institution to play around with Magnets and Motors (£35) in the L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre. This workshop for kids aged 13 to 15 runs from 11am to 3pm, and there are shorter sessions – like Building with Stixx (£30) – happening on the same day for younger siblings. In fact, there’s loads going on at the RI all week, from forensics to cosmetic chemistry. Sign up, quick.
The Royal Institution. Green Park. Prices vary.
Make tracks for King’s College School in Wimbledon for a Minecraft Coding marathon with Code Kids. Children aged 7 to 12 can learn to code in Java with Minecraft, then come back the next day for Sphero Robotics and Coding to swot up on key programming and engineering concepts. Closer to Blackheath? Try the Lego Robotics Workshop instead on Thu Feb 21.
King's College School. Wimbledon. £65.50.
John Ball School. Blackheath rail. £47.
Spend a day at the Natural History Museum and drop into the Investigate centre to get a close look at some of the grizzly animal specimens in all their glory. If you’ve got young adults, book them on to a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoology collection, some of it collected by Charles Darwin himself. Then settle in to watch The Wider Earth, a play all about him in the museum’s theatre.
Natural History Museum. South Kensington. Free entry, £15 tour, £19.50 show (until Feb 24)
Not done with Darwin? Hop on the train for a day trip to the naturalist’s former home, Down House, an English Heritage site in deepest Kent. The Grade I-listed building is where Darwin wrote ‘On the Origin of Species’. There are 40-minute Discover with Darwin workshops for kids running all week, four times a day. Bonus: you can buy tickets on the day.
Down House, Downe, Kent. Orpington rail then R8 bus. Mon Feb 18-Feb 22. £12, £7.20.
The Royal Institution’s Family Fun Day includes drop-in talks, experiments and demos that expand on themes from the 2018 Christmas Lectures – if you watched them on the telly you’ll know what to expect. Get involved with hands-on activities about genetics, and hear from zoologist Matt Wilkinson about why there are no dragons, unicorns, giants or vampires thanks to the limits of evolution.
Royal Institution. Green Park. £16, £10 child.
For the last day of half-term, get stuck in at the Science Museum’s Wonderlab. This interactive exhibition will leave the kids’ heads spinning. Then treat them to a science-themed afternoon tea at The Ampersand Hotel next door. You just survived another half-term. That glass of champagne has your name on it.
Science Museum. South Kensington. Free entry, Wonderlab from £9, £7.20 child.
The Ampersand Hotel Science Afternoon Tea with a glass of champagne £49.50, £29.50 child (no champers).
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