With all the big kids back at school, now is the perfect time to take the little ones down to Scitech, especially to enjoy Toddlerfest 2012.
All the usual 'action stations' are there to keep inquisitive minds amused, from the mini hot air balloon to the thong organ. There are so many of these stations with lots of buttons to push or levers to pull that everyone is sure to get a turn. In addition, Discoverland is an area dedicated to 3 to 7 year olds and has some great activities for smaller children. In particular, my little one loved donning a hard hat and using the pulleys to hoist foam bricks up in a bucket to build a wall.
Toddlerfest brings a few special exhibits to Scitech especially for toddlers. There is a good little petting zoo, with pigs, lambs, kids (the baby goat variety), rabbits and ducks. Kids (the human variety) can also sit and hold a guinea pig while it munches on some carrot or a lettuce leaf. Of course, now my daughter now wants a guinea pig for her birthday. I only wish she had been as enamored with the playdough stall as I'm sure playdough doesn't need its cage cleaned every day.
The playdough tables are filled with various cookie cutter shapes, extruders and tools. There were several playdoughs which I'm sure were all different colours before we got there late in the afternoon, by which time they all resembled some strange purple-green concoction. However, it kept the kids entertained for a little while before they wanted to press some more buttons to make things go pop and bang. The bubble stand seemed to be quite popular, with Scitech attendants creating large floating bubbles while kids waved smaller wands about to make their own bubbles. There are also areas catering for smaller children, with playpens full of balls and toys and sections to crawl around on soft structures.
Instead of holding shows in the Puppet Theatre or Science Theatre, a main show stage has been set up near the back of Scitech (near the Tastebud cafe area). Given the 'get up and dance' nature of the shows, such as the Kangaroo Creek Gang and Let's Move Puppet Show, this gives kids and parents alike plenty of space to enjoy the entertainment.
For parents, there are information display stalls from Kidsafe, Ngala, Better Beginnings, Playgroup Association and the Health Department, with brochures to take away or experts to talk to. Scitech has also dedicated an area just for pram parking - genius.
Scitech's current exhibition 'Rescue' is also open for toddlers to explore. Although some of the activities in this section may be a little old for smaller children, my three year old enjoyed the helicopter simulator and relished the opportunity to pretend she was a TV newsreader covering a story about a fire.
I am a fan of Scitech from way back and yes, many of the activities are still the same from 20 years ago. I found Toddlerfest to be a great way to get little ones excited about discovering new things at their own pace. The few extra exhibits are great (despite the smell of the petting zoo in the late afternoon), although a few more climbing gyms or physical activities could have helped older toddlers burn off some extra energy. For a few hours or for the day, there is plenty at Toddlerfest to keep little minds and bodies amused.
If that all wasn't enough, entry to Scitech is $14 for adults (concession $10), while children under 4 are free. Parking at City West is also free, but don't forget to display the parking permit you receive once buying your entry ticket. More information can be found on the Scitech website.