Magna Science Adventure Centre, situated in no mans land between Rotherham and Sheffield is an attraction we love, however, since it opened in 2001 it has struggled to capture the imagination of people in the area, and although the idea is solid, it has constantly had to be propped up by the local council, money which we must say is always repaid as a loan, as far as we can tell.
So, Magna, we don’t make a habit of going every single year, purely down to the fact that nothing inside changes, however, we do have a year on, year off approach to the attraction, which leaves enough time to re-discover the museum.
Magna is mainly aimed at children, and as such the exhibits inside appeal to the younger age, however, you can have a great time in certain areas of the building, playing and getting hands on.
As you approach Magna, you skirt past Rotherham town centre and are sent down a road linking Rotherham and Sheffield, which is very industrial, you can almost be forgiven for thinking you have taken a wrong turn. You get to a roundabout with a sculpture of a Phoenix from the Flames sat in the middle and you are just about there. Entering the car park, the museum building is incredible impressive, with its huge steel girders holding up the roof and canopy.
The entrance area holds a display showing the items steel is used in, and shadows of the museums past litter the area, half demolished, half preserved, its quite a sight to see with huge poles and bits of steel sticking out of the ground, you try and work out what each part was used for.
The pay desk is always dealt with swiftly, and you are given a map, which is somewhat useless for navigation, however, it shows the basic areas of the building to ensure you don’t miss anything.
You are pointed the way which takes you through some dark corridors and into a huge area with a huge hook which grabs your attention, and is the area also used for the Abyss, which claims to be the UKs tallest indoor bungee. Alongside, there is also what they call the Powerfan and also an Abseil, all of which are additional extras, and you need to pre-book usually.
Moving on you eventually reach a walkway where the Big Melt takes place. Here, on the hour, every hour, there is a light, sound and visual effects show which tries to show what it was like when the old steel furnace in front of you was turned on. With the hard to hear explanation coming from speakers behind you, I always find it a little difficult to believe that it was as tame as what is being displayed, however, it is still a good show which will have your attention throughout.
Usually the next stop for us here is the Fire area. Hidden behind some partitions, the Fire area displays what is possibly the next most impressive exhibit, a Fire tornado, which fires once every 10 or 15 minutes, created by some kerosene and large fans, its certainly something which needs to be on your list of things to see.
Also in this area is a few exhibits showing the effect of heat on steel, magnetic steel sorting and the chance to dress as a fire fighter.
Moving on you pass the Big Melt again to a central staircase. Here, we normally head upwards and into the Air Pavilion, which we find as the least engaging. There are displays of how air movement impacts structures and can create sounds as well as visualising air with smoke and water.
Back down the stairs, you eventually get to the Water Pavilion. Here you can learn about the power of water, see a replica of the Manneken Pis statue which may get you giggling, see your weight in water and play with water jets.
This really is a children’s water paradise, however be prepared to get a little splashed!
The last area you encounter is the Earth. This is found right in the bowls of Magna, and you get the chance to sort rocks and get behind the controls of a JCB digger.
Magna has huge appeal for children, and you can quite happily spend a day there exploring the huge building. Be prepared for faulty exhibits given the hands on nature of many of the items, and we think we have a perfect approach, missing a year to avoid getting bored, so if you haven’t been for some time we urge you to go and take look, and even if its not been that long, like us, keep an eye on the Magna website as they have events every now and then throughout the year, especially are the school holidays.