Wednesday, August 15, 2012


hi there

ok, up front, if you have staggered or stumbled on to this page or post in the hope of seeing something science-fiction related involving that (remarkably talented but still often a) twat in the sunglasses you are unlikely to find what you hope for here. sorry, but do take the time to read anyway. this is does involve a beautiful day, however, as it's about our trip out to the most excellent Sci Bono Discovery Centre located in Johannesburg.

last Thursday was something of a "double whammy" for us. not only was it a public holiday, it was (i am reasonably reliably informed) some sort of anniversary for me and my lovely wife. we wished to do something special and, with the weather being a bit cold (refer to earlier post on snow), preferably inside. off to town to visit this interesting sounding Sci-Bono it was, then.

by the way, the reason for this update being a week later is partially being busy at verk and home, but mostly down to me being laid low with illness since Friday. some sort of bronchial infection, apparently, with some asthma treatment thrown in for good measure. well, my doctor is that type i suppose. not that this has anything to do with the Sci-Bono place.

moving on to things that do have something to do with Sci-Bono, and what can i say but what a magnificent idea it was that we had and what a brilliant place it is! hopefully these pictures and my commentary show that off here, especially if you are looking at this with a view towards going for a visit. if you are considering it, please do go, you shall not regret it!

a major issue we had with the boys when we got there, it has to be said, was convincing them to actually go inside the centre. not that they were scared or intimidated, you understand - it was just that they had found the very cool "party area" at the front and were reluctant to leave it!

and who can blame them when it allowed them to pretend to be astronauts!

alas i did not get the chance to pose in one of these things, but you are no doubt better off with not all that many pictures of me anyway. especially not looking at the state of my beard at present. James and William are far better subjects for pictures than your humble narrator is, i am sure you will agree!

i am not sure, distance wise, how practical it will be for James or William to have a birthday party here one of these days but i would very much like to! maybe i will hold a birthday party for myself there!

once the boys were inside, well, it was a world of adventure and discovery for them, to tell the truth! the place is massive, with some 3 or 4 levels of interactive displays, experiments and things to do. i say "3 or 4" as the outlay is that you have split levels (floor 2 and a half, for instance), so it's hard to say exactly, my architect skills not being what they could.

and as i mentioned the idea of architecture (or however you spell it), how handy that the first pictures should be of one of the things the boys really, really loved - a rather excellent building site!

i suspect that they boys really, really loving this part of the Sci-Bono place was down to them missing Grandad a bit. since he has headed off for pastures new there has been no one around to put them to work on unusual or possibly dangerous construction projects. they were rather glad, then, to have a play with the house building site!

all of the construction material was foam, which was somewhat preferable to the wrought iron and concrete blocks Grandad used to get them to haul around but did, it has to be said, remove some of the excitement and danger factor for the boys. Sci-Bono, unlike Grandad, was somewhat insistent that the children all wear protective head gear too, as you can see!

the elements of danger being removed did not stop the boys having fun with the construction site, i am happy to report. they were also very, very happy indeed to be able to have a go on a crane, something that for some reason Grandad had never considered using in any of his building work. well, not yet anyway - with that seed sown, best of luck Katie and Daniel.

much like the party area, it took some persuading to get the boys to leave the construction site and look at what else Sci-Bono had to offer, but eventually they came along with us!

ah, i mentioned sunglasses earlier, did i not? i have to be honest and say i do not recall exactly why James was required to wear protective sunglasses in the next picture, but i am sure it was for no other Bono reasons and perfectly valid Sci-Bono ones!

the above is one of a massive amount of interactive experiments and displays that children (and grown ups) are encouraged to try, use and learn from. every single one of them was, honestly, brilliant. a fair few of the displays were science and technology related, but there's also a diverse range of "psychological" or thinking / mental puzzles and experiments to try.

yes, the majority had me flustered and i could not work out how to do them, but the boys managed just fine!

the boys managed particularly fine with any and all experiments or tests that invovled making a noise, of course. a few of the more refined, less noise creation ones took their fancy too. like, for instance or indeed perhaps in particular, the one below, where you had to connect the batteries and wires correctly to make the train work.

that was indeed a very class one, and we could have stayed there for quite some time making the train go around and around!

any negatives from the day, you ask? well, yes and no. there was some disappointment when we discovered that the big, massive (presumably) animatronic / interactive dinosaurs were down for repairs. that said, we had no idea at all that there would be big, massive dinosaurs there to begin with, and it was just excellent to see them!

i have no clue as to what they would do when plugged in and that, but they looked really, really class! i think the staff at Sci-Bono were a touch confused as to why we spent so much time looking at a display that was clearly marked as not working, but there you go - the boys both love dinosaurs and these were the biggest ones they had seen thus far!

what you would, i suppose, call "physical science" was on display at Sci-Bono too. there was all sorts of stuff about smoking (it's bad for you, i gather) and i had a go on some sort of tread mill too. and, now that i think, an exercise bike thingie, with my pedalling making some sort of radio and lights work.

James and William sort of had a go on those things, but a big winner for them both was a class set of football related challenges, tests and games. it was wonderful that the Sci-Bono staff tried to explain in as friendly terms as possible what they should be doing, but they just went wild in the football areas, doing their own thing!

i by no means got pictures of everything, so please do not think these few pictures show all there is to see. we were just having too much fun to bother taking photographs of everything - sorry Dad, i know that is not the way you do it!

a sort of final picture, though, is of the boys in one of more than one areas they have set up with mountains and mountains of Lego bricks to build away with!

i think William was a touch disappointed that he could not take home whatever he was building with the Lego, but we kind of have enough of the stuff at home for him to be busy with!

my favourite bit? spending some ace, fun time with my lovely wife and children, watching them play and experiment away. aah, yes i know. a very close second to that, however, would be the king of things, one of them thermal camera devices!

i took the best self-portrait i could of it, that's James and i in front of it! you can pretend that the Predator out of Predator is hunting you down! how class is that? if the whole rest of Sci-Bono was rubbish, which it most certainly was not, but they had that thermal camera, i would go back just for that. that is how class that is!

now then, is there a trick or something hidden about Sci-Bono? not really. the cost, you ask? well, at the time of writing, the entry fees are R20.00 for adults, R10.00 for children except children under the age of 6, who get in for free! considering what you get, that is a ridiculous, low fee to be charging - but of course excellent, for it means it is open and accessible to just about everyone.

some will have concerns about it being located "in Johannesburg", of course. no, Johannesburg isn't the single safest place in the world, but it is far from being as dangerous as some would suspect. basically, you can get there without any sort of fear - off the highway at Jan Smuts, over the magnificent Nelson Mandela bridge, a quick turn into Newtown and there you are in safe, secure and free parking for the Sci-Bono centre.

any fellow residents of this magnificent city who have children and are reading this do not, quite frankly, have any excuse not to take their kids to this place. it is a must-visit thing, and we shall be going again in the not too distant future.

more of the usual ranting and raving about the usual things that bother me later!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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