Balance your weight against your child's, try to form a bubble column around yourself, or step inside a giant eye. Frankfurt's ExperiMINTa science museum is as awesome for the accompanying adult as it is for its target child audience, and offers an excellent opportunity for play-based learning and creative fun.
On arrival, it looks a little underwhelming, but the comical sign on the door reassures you it's open, and then the door magically swings open and you're off to explore.
Arranged over three floors, the museum is an absolute extravaganza of science-based activities for children to explore. Split into a sequence of different sized rooms, noise and crowding are minimised, as children explore their favourite 'zones'.
Each room / area is themed around a sense or a topic. On the ground floor, for example, is a fantastic eye and sight room. There are microscopes for examining things in detail, and a whole range of light and sight experiences to try.
Also on the ground floor is a Foucault's pendulum. They have a small one with which you can play, and then a much larger one roped off. You're encouraged to check its angle on arrival and then again when you leave, to see how far it has moved.
Another room focuses on mirrors and other optical effects, including a split 'ribbon' mirror, which lets you look at yourself 'cut' with someone opposite you. Weird, but fun. Fun is at the heart of the museum, but you can't help learning while doing too.
In the middle, you can stop for a break, in a small cafe. Reasonably priced hot meals are available, or simpler snacks. Time things carefully, as it isn't large. There are, however, several picnic rooms where you can also eat your own lunch. It's very well-organised.
The rest of the floor contains even more activities. There's a 'fakir bed' with blunt metal cylinders which rise up when two buttons are pressed together. Not the most comfortable experience, but it does work. Clear explanations of all activities help children understand the science as well as play.
In there, there are also three pulley seats demonstrating how pulleys help you lift weight more easily, along with a concrete block on the floor, with a pulley on one way and a challenge to see how well you can pull it. Balance and weight is investigated with seesaws and a beam to hook weights onto. Parlour games requiring various motion forces are explained. There's so much to see and do!
In another room, you stand behind a screen with green, red, and blue lights backlighting you, and an observer can watch your form split and multiply as you move closer or further from the lights.
Another has a sink full of bubble mix, with different shapes to dip in it, yielding fascinating outcomes. Even better is the enormous hoop on a pulley which you can stand inside, making a bubble column form around you (with a little bit of practice).
This floor also has the Maths areas. These include a room with platonic solids to explore, and different shaped plastic pieces to put together. There's also a computer with a code to break but be aware it's in German. Other rooms and displays work through theorems from Pythagoras to Pascal, with practical, tactile ways to get to grips with concepts, as well as written explanations.
Not every room was open, while they prepare for new exhibitions, demonstrating a wonderful commitment to keeping things new and interesting. There's so much to do that the occasional blank space is barely noticeable.
A notice on the wall asks visitors not to spend more than two hours there, but it would be easy to double that and not be bored. The museum offers workshops, and parties for children age 6-13 (which gives you a sense of their expected visitor age range).
There are lifts, and plenty of toilets. A small shop offers a range of science-based toys and games. At 13 euros for an adult, 3-8.5 euros for children, and a family ticket for 30 euros (at the time of writing), it's far less expensive than many comparable places, and well worth it for the learning and excitement.