Xplore! Science Discovery Centre and The Venture

Xplore! Science Discovery Centre partnered with The Venture, an adventure playground in Wrexham.

Who did you work with?

Xplore! Science Discovery Centre worked with The Venture, an adventure playground in Wrexham. The aim of the Venture is to support every child, young person and family to achieve their real potential and has over the years to be a fantastic community play area, and a hub for families, from early years to teenagers. Open and accepting of all, The Venture has a welcoming family atmosphere where children get to explore, experiment, stretch and test their abilities.

Had you worked together before?

This project was not the first time we worked together. We had previously worked together as part of focus groups finding out what people unlikely to visit a science centre would want from a science centre.

Xplore partnership

What goals, values or priorities did you share with your partner?

We share common goals of wanting to encourage children and young people to develop their potential and help them find out more about the opportunities open to them.

Can you summarise the aims of your project delivery in 2 (ish) sentences?

We ran a 5-session after-school club (90 minute sessions) which were participant-led, fun, engaging and made science relevant to the young people.


How co-produced was your programme?

  1. Information shared (the offer is decided and provided by you as the lead partner and people join to hear information)
  2. Consultation (the community partner/participants choose from a range of options, involving listening, feedback and discussion, but broader project objectives and delivery are led by you)
  3. Deciding together (community partners/participants support the creation and design phase, bringing new options and joint decision-making. Delivery and evaluation/reporting is led by you as the lead partner)
  4. Acting together (involvement of community partner/participant at each stage - from the planning and design, to the delivery and evaluation – with shared decision-making that forms a partnership to carry out the full programme)
  5. Supporting independent community interest (supporting partner agency, including offered funding, advice, and support to develop the independent ideas and agendas of the community partner).

Can you note down some of the benefits and challenges to working this way?


Staff loved the enthusiasm and atmosphere at the Venture, they get to have fun and support children in their science learning. The children really impressed us with their creativity to come up with games linked to science.


Sessions are very dynamic, and staff have to prepare more activities than they need, in case the interest or needs of the group change. Risk assessing on the spot and changing things as they go can be challenging but it is an exciting and different way of working.

What was the science link?

STFC related science activities were developed to meet the needs of the young people using participatory methodologies and we understood the need for a flexible programme. The exact science was chosen with the participants themselves. Our aim was to link STFC science back to everyday life experienced by the young people to translate families’ existing cultural resources into science capital.

Xplore zipline

What happened?

Here is a story about one session where we took some ‘running parachutes’, which the children were excited to use on the Zipline. As a whole group we moved from the fire area to the Zipline, where they experimented and travelled down the Zipline wearing the parachute, to see what would happen. It was lovely to see the children taking turns and supporting each other. Independently, they worked out that the person on the Zipline needed someone to hold the parachute up before they jumped.

Lots of other children at the Venture wanted to join in too, which then developed into using the parachutes to jump from objects in the playground and zoom down the big slide. The children did their own risk assessments, such as “no that’s too high”, etc. Some even evaluated why it had or hadn’t worked well, such as their conclusion that there was “not enough air under it”.

The group then really enjoyed the Egg Drop challenge. Some groups used a parachute to slow their egg down. They all wanted us (Xplore staff) to watch them and share in their achievements, and so we felt accepted as part of the play worker team.

When completing the Evaluation Sheet, one child answered the Science question ‘what or who do you think of?’ by drawing themselves. He said “I’m a Scientist”.

Do you have any quotes you could share?

“I’m doing proper science!” (quote from child)

“Science is making me curious” (quote from child)

“Even as an adult you can still learn new things” (quote from parent)

What challenges might lie in wait for someone wanting to replicate this project?

Challenges ahead include getting to know an entirely new group of children and also having large numbers. Keeping the Science Club numbers small enough allowed for quality engagement, ensuring enough time and equipment for everyone. Challenges also arise in trying to get families involved. The Venture is for children and young people, but we wanted to engage whole families. However only one parent took part in the celebration visit.

How did you capture/measure the impact for this project?

Using the evaluation methods and tools of the Explore Your Universe Phase 4 programme.

Where is the long-lasting change?

The partnership between Xplore! and The Venture has evolved over the course of the project and both partners have learnt from each other. The links have extended past just delivering 5 Science Club to having staff from The Venture delivering a session about Playwork Principles to Xplore! at an all staff training day.

The partnership continues – During lockdown Xplore were able to delivery some ‘science at home with families’ resource packs. We are all back in touch again now and our partner is already talking about what we could do in the spring or the summer together.