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From wee ones to big kids and the young at heart, W5 helps satisfy insatiable appetites for knowledge, helping to awaken the senses and deepen learning through hands-on play.

According to leading local medical experts, it’s this hands-on, communal play that holds the key to unlocking our world of wonder. W5 has teamed up with leading clinicians at Kingsbridge Private Hospital to explore the science of play and hands-on family fun.

Leading paediatric specialist speech and language therapist, Joanna Cushley says families that play together can accelerate and enhance learning.

“Children learn about the world around them through play,” explains Joanna. “It creates a stress-free environment where they can interact, practice speech and language skills and build their vocabulary. Play is proven to improve socio-economic, physical and cognitive development. Children learn by doing, and playing together, with adult interaction and modelling different types of play, makes it even more powerful.

“Children’s minds are naturally very inquisitive. In play, they can explore the world around them through their senses. With interactive hands-on play, like the activities available in W5, the senses are heightened. When adults then play with them, this heightens the modelling of language, creating a link in their brain between the action they are doing and the word that goes with that action.”

With hundreds of interactive exhibits and experiences covering everything from nature and climate change to optical illusions, film and TV production and how the human body works, W5 makes learning fun.

According to consultant paediatric neurosurgeon, Mano Shanmuganathan, a ‘back to basics’ approach that favours hands-on, fun practical experiences is good for brain and mental health. The well-known consultant survived being stranded on a desert island for 30 days in 2018 as part of TV show, Treasure Island, hosted by Bear Grylls.

“Technology has led to so many advances in our world, not least medical science, but there’s a lot to be said for real-life, in-person, hands-on experiences. Taking time out, moderating our screen time, and doing practical, hands-on tasks can help to reset our circadian rhythms, and improve our mental health.

“I experienced that first hand on the island. It’s how we were first designed: to do, be, build, learn and enquire. Taking time out from the haptic feedback our brains process daily via screens to do something fun, that engages all the senses, is good for you and helps achieve mental clarity.”

Did you know? 5 fun facts you can discover in W5:

1. There are more sheep than people in Northern Ireland?
2. Sunlight takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach earth?
3. Human bone can be four times stronger than concrete?
4. Your brain reads words faster than it recognises colours?
5. Crime scene investigators use UV light when looking for fingerprints?

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W5 is here to 'inspire curious minds' and offer thought-provoking fun for all the family. With over 250 interactive exhibits, the award-winning science and discovery centre can help answer 'a world of questions' and satisfy insatiable appetites for knowledge.

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