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May half term: Tinkertastic

What links Stephenson's Rocket, Rolls-Royce engines and Apple computers? They were all created by people inventing new ways of doing things through DIY, tinkering and making.

Kicking off with our annual maker celebration weekender, MakeFest, on 25 and 26 May, Tinkertastic is your chance to get hands-on, make, try, experiment and maybe even discover a secret talent. 

Every day throughout the half term holiday, our Science Showdown show will introduce you to some famous inventors who didn't get it right the first time but tried again and found success. Be a volunteer in our live experiments and vote for your favourite maker at the end.

Sign up for our Made Up Machines workshop and work as a team to create the component parts of a mega machine. Will everything work when things are all put together?  There's only one way to find out…

Want more tinkering time? Get to our Build a Band drop-in activity where you can really make some noise creating musical instruments with nothing but rubbish. From rubber glove bagpipes to a whistle made of straws, test out your inventing skills and join our crazy orchestra.

A wander around the rest of the museum could spark even more inspiration, with everything from the iconic early railway locomotive Stephenson's Rocket to the first stored programme computer, Baby, both of which took a lot of tinkering to get right.

Join us this May half term and find your Eureka! moment at Tinkertastic.

Hands-on workshops

Made Up Machines

Time: 45-minute workshops starting at 11.00, 11.15, 12.00 and 12.15 (27 May – 2 June only)
Location: Rooms 1 and 2, Learning Loft
Age: Recommended for ages 7 and older

Ordinary objects become extraordinary machines when you use your imagination. Work with your group to pass on the power to the next machine in the chain and create one mega machine. Will you push it, pull it, drop it or lift it?

Please note, this activity is free but requires booking on the day.

Build a Band

Time: drop in anytime from 10.30 (25–26 May) or 14.30 (27 May – 2 June), until 16.30
Location: Conversation Space, Textiles Gallery
Age: Recommended for ages 3 and older

Blow your own trumpet, toot your own horn and bang your own drum all day—but you'll need to make it first. Will it beat, bash or buzz? Band together to make a whole family of instruments from a huge range of supplies and make some noise.