Snibston Discovery Park, Coalville, Leicestershire (01530 510 851) opens free to the public from Sat 18 Jan-Sun 19 Jan 10am-4.30pm


If you never quite mastered the periodic table, if Chaos theory leaves you cold, if Star Wars was, and always will be, a film rather than a space programme, why not take a trip to Snibston Discovery Park, a place which actually makes science accessible and enjoyable. This weekend there's the added bonus of free entry, as well as special events guaranteed to make even the least science-minded feel like Stephen Hawking for the day.


Like many erstwhile industrial areas of England, Leicestershire has had to make the shift from production line to heritage park. This weekend, visitors to Snibston can excavate the area's mining history by taking a look around the town's colliery buildings, and talking to ex-miners who will be on hand to answer questions about what really happened to those canaries.


Hands-on science aims to make learning fun, and you don't have to be a child to enjoy it. In fact, after initial wariness, it tends to be adults who can be seen hogging exhibits such as Henry the cycling skeleton, and the electrifying Plasma Globe (right), which can be used to achieve some rather groovesome vertical hairdos.

Elsewhere, you might like to have a look at Snibston's large collection of environmental energy exhibits, including the brand new Wild Water, a hands-on look at hydraulic power. What's more, there's a free chance to strap on a helmet and take a stroll through virtual reality.


Along with such permanent exhibits, today's apprentice egg-heads can enjoy some specially laid on treats. A huge steam-powered beam engine will provide the backdrop for everything from microscopic investigations to genealogy (with the local Records Office on hand to help you trace those skeletons in the family cupboard)

Leicester's archaeological society will be running flint-knapping sessions throughout the day, so that visitors can learn how to make a stone-age blade, while a field simulation lets pseudo-Indiana Joneses dig through layers of earth to uncover pre- planted artefacts. And after all that frenetic investigation, why not take the weight off your corset and listen to a special talk on the subject of Victorian underwear?


Run by local rangers, Tree Quest is a giant board game which requires competitors to gather as many different leaves as they can to make up a huge composite tree. The winner gets an oak of their own, presented by none other than the environmental star, Woody Tree.