Region: South West South East

Disabled Facilities: Yes

Category: Day Trip Destinations

Address: Winchester Science Centre, Telegraph Way , Winchester , Hampshire S021 1HZ

Contact: 01962 891900



The Science Centre houses 100 hands-on science exhibits and the UK's largest capacity digital planetarium.

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Exactly what does your venue offer to educational visits?

Winchester Science Centre is a purpose built visitor attraction housed in a giant pyramid and dome on the South Downs, easily accessed from the M3 and other major routes. A dedicated team coordinate visits from nearly 40,000 schools visitors each year, offering a variety of activities to suit different ages and abilities.

The Science Centre is run by an independent charity who use public visitor income and other income sources to subsidise school trips, and so is able to offer excellent value.

The main part of the building contains two floors of hands-on science exhibition, allowing self-led exploration of 100 interactive science exhibits. Current exhibits range from a giant crane, walk-through colon and the chance to create a smoke tornado or water whirlpool, to distorted illusion room, sports zone and the opportunity to step inside an EVA spacesuit.

Schools usually also add at least one booked activity to their trip. All activities are presented by professional science communicators from the Learning and Participation team:

Planetarium: the UK’s largest standalone planetarium; a truly inspirational experience and often reported as the most popular part of a trip. The giant domed screen gives a sense of immersion, creating an awe-inspiring and memorable experience which can be invaluable in communicating ideas of scale and distance in space. A variety of shows are available for all ages and abilities, usually followed by Q&A.

Workshops and activities: a new, updated offer with reduced prices from September 2017. Workshops are designed with the curriculum in mind and include hands on practical activities, providing meaningful and exciting experiences not always possible in school. Use of the Invention Studio (engineering zone) and science shows are also available.

Why you are you a great place for educational visits?

Winchester Science Centre provides a safe, exciting and exploratory environment for children, while professionally coordinating visits to allow the adults also to enjoy the day.

The Science Centre staff are experienced at managing school visits for groups of all sizes. Staff delivering activities are all trained professionals with a passion for education, and with the drive to spark curiosity in each individual child. Every member of the Planetarium Team has a university-level astrophysics qualification.

In academic year 2016-17, 96% of visiting teachers scored us 5-6 out of 6 when asked whether they were likely to return.

What does a typical educational visit include?

The Science Centre’s self-led hands-on exhibition is particularly suited to yrR-7. Children are keen to explore the many and varied exhibits, which are designed to be immediately engaging although adults may wish to refer to the accompanying labels for additional information. Exhibits can be explored either in small groups or individually.

Planetarium shows are offered on a variety of topics, mostly astronomy-related, for ages from Reception to adult. Most shows last 30-40 minutes. Live-presented shows are usually the first choice for schools, with curriculum-based shows available for KS1-3. Fulldome films are also available and of particular interest to SEN, those seeking unusual topics, mixed age groups or or those requesting two contrasting shows during their visit. All shows include beautiful visuals across the entire dome surface, giving a sense of immersion and wonder, and can be followed by Q&A. Staff help seat groups, ensuring children are near their supervising adults.

Workshops are offered on a variety of curriculum topics, from Early Years to KS4. Most workshops last 45 minutes, with some taking 90 minutes. From the excitement of launching their own water rocket outside, to testing materials for a spacesuit or watching music make flames dance, there are plenty of ways to keep young minds engaged.

Workshops topics include Space, Forces, Digestion, Plants, Rockets, Sound, Control Technology and Materials – please see the website for the full (and growing) list, where you can also find information about each workshop’s content and curriculum links. Prices have recently been reduced to allow more schools to take advantage of this option, and so this is the perfect time to book.

Schools can also book time in the Invention Studio, a largely self-led space where children can take on engineering challenges.

There is an on-site Science Shop which may be visited by supervised students. Purchases are put in named bags to be collected at the end of the day, to avoid losses and ensure students have their hands free to make the most of their day. There are always a variety of small-value items available for those with limited funds.

Schools are provided with storage for bags and coats, and a timed lunch slot (tables are provided indoors, else you may prefer to picnic outside in good weather). The Education Team assist with arrival and departure to ensure that these processes run smoothly.

What group sizes do you cater for?

Up to 300 students. Small groups from SEN schools are very welcome.

Do you provide projects, teacher’s packs, work sheets or any useful information?

Each visiting schools receives a teacher pack on departure, including useful information about external projects they may wish to become involved with, and resources such as star guides and Moon calendars.

The Science Centre manages the STEM Ambassador scheme for the South Central region and can arrange for STEM professional volunteers to support schools with their activities, including by giving careers talks. Let us know if we can help – and you don’t need to visit the Centre to take advantage of this! Please note STEM Ambassadors do not provide workshops.

Are you happy for children to take photos, video or audio?

Yes, please do! We only ask that you be mindful of the fact that other visitors to the Centre may not wish their images to be made public for reasons of personal security.

In the planetarium it is possible to take photographs before the show as the audience take their seats, but not during the show itself.

What is your process for booking pre arranged risk assessments?

Information to help with preparing a risk assessment is available for download from the website.

Teachers are invited to monthly Teacher Preview evenings for pre-visit/pre-booking exploration of the facilities and to help with risk assessment.

Does your venue have an education officer?

Winchester Science Centre’s Learning and Participation Department employs eleven staff within the Education and Planetarium teams. The first point of contact for schools is the Schools and Groups Booking Officer, Anita Shearing. If enquiring about a booking, please use the online enquiry form to help speed the process.

What is the cost of the visit?

General visit (including access to hands-on science exhibition): £4.15 per child, supervising adults free.

Add a workshop for £1.50 (45min) or £3 (90min) per child, supervising adults free.

Add planetarium shows for £1.75 per person per show.

Is specific clothing required for the trip?

Some workshops use outdoor grassy spaces and may require weather-appropriate dress.

Do you have first aid on site or will the group need to bring a qualified first aider?

There are on-site first aiders, and a first aid room. Please let us know if you would like to use this room for medical requirements during your visit.

Please list facilities available.

Schools indoor lunch area / outside picnic areas.

Water fountain.

Girls/Boys toilets (in addition to Ladies/Gents/Accessible).

Bag/coat storage (although these can often be left on the coach)

Café (not usually used by school children; please ask if you would like to use this facility).

Shop (recommended spend £3-£5, more expensive items also available).

Coach parking, with free entry to the Science Centre for coach drivers.

What are your disabled facilities?

Winchester Science Centre is pleased to welcome many disabled visitors, including groups from special needs schools and PMLD visitors.

Flat, open access throughout the buildings.

Six (or seven, please ask for advice) wheelchair spaces available in the planetarium – with a good view!

Hearing loop system in the planetarium (please let the planetarium operator know you will be using this).

Roll-on roll-off lift.

Wheelchairs available to borrow during your visit (please book these in advance).

Accessible toilet on both floors (upstairs toilet includes an open shower, but please be aware we do not at this time have a hoist or changing facilities).

Dedicated disabled parking at the base of the building (ramp up to main entrance) and top of the car park (flat access but longer distance to main entrance).

Wheelchair basketball exhibit! Try out our sports wheelchair, or compete against your classmates using your own.

Planetarium shows and activities may be adapted by request to suit groups’ needs to enable access. Please let us know when booking. Private planetarium shows are available for groups where it is not possible to join other groups due to disruptive vocalisation or other issues.

What are your opening days and hours?

Hampshire school days 10am – 4pm (earlier arrival is available for schools)

Other days 10am – 5pm (with occasional extended hours)

Closed 24-26 December

Do you have any testimonials from previous schools we can include?

“A big thank you for a wonderful visit yesterday; my Year 6s were absolutely raving about it afterwards. Your staff are amazing; the KNEX workshop was inspired, especially the team work aspect and the presenter in your Planetarium was outstanding – she impressed me with her amazing knowledge but also her ability to make it accessible for 10 year olds! Amazing. I also felt that your overall logistics and organisation made the day super smooth.” Highfield School, Liphook (2017)

“We were really impressed with the organisation at the centre. Not having been before it was difficult to know what to expect […] All the staff were very polite and efficient and we were able to keep to schedule and all the activities ran to time. We were even able to board the coaches and leave on time.  I know that the students really got a buzz from some of the exhibits and could hear many of them talking about what they had done. I know the real value will come in the next few days when we are able to link their understanding to what they were doing. Thank you for our visit today.” Amersham School (2017)

“Thank you all so much for a fantastic day. Your organisation of our huge group was exemplary, as was the quality of the Planetarium Show which was absolutely top class, as well as the wonderful exhibits. All of our 180 children had a marvellous day as did our parent helpers. We are very keen to return next year!” Baden Powell and St Michaels Middle School (2017)

Is there anything else that you feel is important and want to include in your information?

We are attracting more schools every year, and so for the best choice of dates we recommend booking at least three to four months in advance of your visit, especially for larger groups.

However, we will always try to fit you in and so do let us know if you have a shorter time frame.


Age of Children / Pupils: Pre-school 5 – 7 years 8 – 10 years 11 – 13 years 14 – 16 years College University

Type of Visit: Museums Picnic Areas Planetarium Science & Technology SEN Themed Attractions

Curriculum Topics Covered: Art and Design Design and Technology Engineering ICT Leisure & Tourism Mathematics PE PSHE STEM

Months Open: All Year Round January February March April May June July August September October November December