About Museum Lates
Dubbed ‘drinking and thinking’ by the young crowd it tends to attract, Science Museum Lates presents an exciting opportunity to explore the museum in a fun and innovative way. There are hands-on scientific activities and demonstrations presented by research institutions and universities in London. The scientists and students are passionate about their subject and they want to share it in a way that makes science more accessible to the public.
At the end of January, Lates hosted an evening titled ‘Engineer with a Beer’ that featured activities produced by Imperial University staff from departments as diverse as Civil and Environmental Engineering, Surgery and Cancer, and Aeronautics. Visitors had the chance to perform impact tests on a crash test dummy to discover the effect of wearing a cycling helmet and its benefits. They were also able to meet Nao, the dancing robot who mirrors your actions. This provided an insight into how a humanoid robot could work in inhospitable environments in the future. There is usually a place where you can create your own souvenirs and at the engineering event, visitors used 3D pens to make birds and even a pair of glasses
Education Through Play
Lates is not just for fun, however. Paula Owen, a former chemist, believes that games and competition could influence people to lead more environmentally friendly lives, thus saving our planet. As part of a Lates event focused on climate change, she displayed her life-size eco version of the classic game snakes and ladders. In an attempt to show that learning about sustainability needn’t be a tiresome exercise, the game featured ‘good’ squares containing positive activities (saving water) that send you up a ladder while ‘bad’ squares (not turning off lights) send you down the snakes. Owen may not be alone in thinking that learning through play could be the way we educate society about important issues. Gartner, a technology research company and the consultancy firm Deloitte predict that ‘gamifying’ processes (applying the mechanics of games in the real world) is a key trend to watch over the next few years.
Alongside the thematic activities at Science Museum Lates, there are additional regular events to enjoy. The silent disco is always a popular choice, so it is advisable to come early to ensure you get a place. A new feature on the ground floor is Punk Science: The Game Show. For £5, you can enjoy this spectacular comedy event combining music, science and humour. Members of the audience are picked at random to take part in science demonstrations or quizzes to be in for a chance to win an iPad mini and other fantastic prizes.
In order to explain how Brownian motion works, one game show invited brave participants to act as air molecules and buffet smoke particles (in the form of beach balls) around at random, with hilarious results. Other shows have included spontaneous rap battles about the weather. It seems that Lates can transform even the superficially dullest of subjects into lighthearted, fascinating fun.
Make sure you try Screen Grab, where you can create your own screen-print souvenir and if you’ve ever wanted to fly your own jet, the Red Arrows, 360° and Typhoon simulators are a must.
For those who need to recharge, there are bars with food and drink available on all three floors. The atmosphere is electric; music echoes through the grand building as DJs mix the latest tracks and party goers, drink in hand, try to explore as much as possible before 10pm.
Lates is popular because it provides a rare opportunity to socialise, learn new things and enjoy a good party all in one evening. With this combination and free entry, it is easy to see how Lates attracts over 3000 visitors each time.