iQ Park is a science museum for children that teaches principles of electricity, physics, anatomy, perception, and sound – everything. It was nice before, with two floors of exhibits, but now it has four floors altogether, with the top two being brand new and very cool.
Liberec, Northern Bohemia
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1 hour from Černý most
3-4 hours for just the iQ Park; all day if doing Luna Park or other activity.
Older kids are fine to wander around on their own, but in some cases, using an exhibit in the wrong way could lead to injury; it’s best to supervise kids who are young or very physical. Very young kids will need a hand in the rotating “space tunnel” and the labyrinth. There is a small maze included in the ticket price, and three large ones next to iQ park that are separate – but very worth it.
On weekends at 16:00 there is a Science Show, but only in Czech. I’m told it’s still educational; for example, the Van de Graaff electricity generator will make your hair rise whether you speak the language or not. However, weekends are very crowded. A staff member recommended we come on a weekday, and I’m so glad we did. We were given a demo of the Van de Graaff, a lightning generator, and a tour of the lab. Sarka and Kuba, who worked there, spoke perfect English, and everyone was helpful. Call ahead, if you are concerned. You can order the Science Show in English for groups of 20 -30 people. If you’re going on a weekday, you have the place to yourselves. Should you take your kid out of school for a day trip? It’s your call – mine are only in preschool, and they learned so much in one day, that I would say yes.
The English-language version of the website is not a reflection of all that is available; try the Czech pahe and run it through Google translate. They are currently working on an English-language brochure. The exhibits on the top two floors, the new additions, have everything written in English (and Polish and German) on laminated cards kept in a slot behind the main Czech description. The ground floor is missing most data in English.
Food within the iQ Park is not especially healthy or kid-friendly. There are a few restaurant options within the Babylon complex, but in iQ Park itself there was just one cafeteria, “AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE”, which didn’t sell any kind of juice – only soda. Water from the taps was fine though. If you choose to bring produce and healthy sandwiches for your kids, you could eat it in here.
To park within the Babylon complex costs 100 CZK a day, but if you can find a spot on the street, it’s only 20 CZK for 24 hours.
Every day from 10:00 to 20:00, including weekends and holidays.
The environment is safe and appealing for even the youngest. The “experiments” are built to withstand abuse, and the controls and colors are irresistible for preschoolers. While the appeal may fade for teenagers, it’s nice when they can see the principles they’re learning in physics class demonstrated before their eyes.
It’s very safe. There are some bean bags on pullleys, a fireman’s pole and a balancing log where, if you aren’t concentrating or acting wild, you could fall. But that is true anywhere you go.
Kids under 100cm: free
Up to 140cm: 60 CZK
Everyone else: 100 CZK
Seniors: half off
Family of 2 adults and 2 kids: 280 CZK
For me, this is excellent value because I love this kind of stuff, and so do my kids. You could stay there all day, repeating experiments and taking notes, really getting as much learning as possible out of the place, or you could just blaze through, try a few things and be done with it – either way it’s a good deal.
If you’ve ever been to Boston Science Museum or the fantastic Exploratorium in San Francisco, you will know what this place is about. It’s such a welcome change from many Czech museums, where not only can kids not touch anything, but they need to be led by hand the whole time. This is not how kids learn. But build a bunch of hard-wearing, colorful, and intuitive pieces, and kids will learn without even realizing it – just as a byproduct of their play. There were many large wooden constructions – like huge Montessori learning tools. The top floor was dimly lit and filled with machines that demonstrated principles of electricity, light waves, and how sound waves can move a wall of CDs. You could see what your weight was on Earth, Venus, or Mars, and the rest of the planets. There was even a “Bed of Nails” where pushing a button activated a grid of nails that lifted you up – but, although they were sharp, it didn’t hurt – because your weight was distributed evenly.
The water installation on the first floor showed Archimedes’ principle and how electricity can be generated from water flow. You could also walk through a miniature model of a coal mine – the kind the region is known for.
Most experiments were intuitive, but I thought a few could have used more information. The “body” room, where you can place organs into models of the human torso, had no identifying labels on the organs, and no pictorial guide to help you stack things right. It would have been more educational if there was a clear right or wrong way to do it. One “physics” exhibit said to “push the ball from a random point in a parallel way to the parabola axis and watch its trajectory after bounce. The trajectory will always cross the focus.” Well, it’s been a while since geometry class, and although it was written in pefect English, I still found myself wishing there were a diagram showing exactly what to do. Everyone’s iQ needs a boost, I suppose, and it’s nice when the whole family can learn together.
Related/ While in the area
Liberec is good for skiing in the winter and bead shopping in nearby Jablonec nad nisou, any time of year. Take the trip to the top of Jested mountain to see a retro space-age hotel and a great view. Babylon happens to also have a water park as nice as Aqua Palace, and there’s a top-notch adults-only wellness area. The more stressed-out parent could pawn the kids off on the other, and have a day of relaxation. There’s bowling, laser tag, and the works for older kids, but if you go with preschoolers, head for the Lunapark. After 16:00, the entry price drops to 95 CZK for persons over 100 cm (free for under) and that give you four HOURS of unlimited bumper cars, mechanical bull, buggy cars, bouncy castle, moving climbing wall, and one of the best jungle gyms around. In other places, the “transport simulator” alone would cost 60 CZK per ride – we got to sit there doing every ride over and over: the roller coaster, the race cars, etc. When it’s this dead though, you need to request the rides be activated – by the attendants at the info booth. Just ask, it’s never a problem. But you have to alternate between the swing carousel and the ducky train – you can’t go over and over again (nausea prevention, I’m guessing). There was no one there but us and three other families, on a Tuesday evening. The kids worked out any remaining energy, and slept the 1.5 hour ride home.