The Children’s Museum in Shatti Al Qurum, Muscat: Educating & Entertaining for 20 Years!

  These white-domed buildings of the Children’s Museum in Muscat are quite eye catching as you drive along the highway (Sultan Qaboos Street) in Muscat.  It is mainly a science museum for kids.  It was officially opened on the 20th National Day of Oman on November 17, 1990 and has been providing edutainment to about 50,000 kids of all ages per year.  It’s open from Saturday to Wednesday, 8:30am-1:30pm, and on Thursday between 9am and 1pm.  I have wanted to visit this museum for quite a while but thought it would be silly to enter without a kid, so when my friend, Jonathan, and his son, Joshua, asked where we should go one afternoon, this was the place that came to mind!  Pretty cool to finally see how the domed ceiling looks!  There are many hands-on types of learning tasks such as this one which introduces the concept of gears to kids.  If they set up a series of gears that lock together properly, it gets the toy bird at the top to move.  This exercise was to learn about “what’s in a spin“.  After spinning around with your arms extended, you are instructed to pull your arms in against your body which results in speeding up due to the property of angular momentum.  (When you pull in your arms, you decrease your radius, and your speed increases to keep your angular momentum unchanged.)  There is a mirror reflecting that star pattern.  The task here requires looking only in the mirror and using the pointer to trace between the stars.  If you touch the sides, a tone beeps to signal your failure.  This visual effect is called the “after image“.  Stare at the red bird for a minute.  Close your eyes briefly and then stare at the dot inside the cage.  You should see a green bird there!  This is a mind trick in Arabic.  The same concept is found here in English.  Looking through these glasses is like seeing in 3-D.  A greatly exaggerated illusion of depth helps you see things that would otherwise be too subtle.  How it works is that a survey plane has flown over the landscape, taking photographs at precisely timed intervals.  This ensures that each photo overlaps the previous photo by at least 70%.  These whisper dishes are pretty cool.  They are spaced very far apart from one another and if someone whispers in one, the other person can hear very easily.  The special propertor of these reflectors is that all sounds waves originating at the focal point are reflected so they travel in parallel paths.  These sounds waves reach the other dish too faint to be heard by the unaided ear.  However, because of the parabolic shape of the second reflector, all the sound converges at its focus, forming a stronger sound that can be heard.  Which soldier is the tallest?  Measure to find out if you’re right.  The three figures appear to vary in height because of their location in the system of converging lines.  (If you like optical illusions, here is a website with quite a few.)  Can you see grey spots where the white stripes cross?  (More optical illusions here)  Are these cubes black on top or on the bottom?  The orange and yellow zones give you two clues.  When your eyes go from one to the other, the cubes appear to reverse.  Old Woman/Young Woman   Can you see two ladies?  An old one and a young one?  Vase or Faces?  How many bones are in your body?  About 270 at birth.  By adulthood, some have fused together to total 206.  More than half of your bones are in your hands, wrists, feet and ankles.  Your skull is made up of 22 bones – 14 of them form your face.  This area of the museum allows you to look at various things such as hair, a coin, insects wings and other items magnified through a microscope.  The science behind snot.  Yummy!  When you open this panel, a jet of air comes through the hole simulating a sneeze.  This model allows children to know different organs of the body as they attempt to put the pieces back in the right places.  Here is a quick video of a father and son surgical team trying to put this dude back together again.  This sculpture is known as “Homunculus“.  It is supposed to represent your brain’s view of your body. Each part is in proportion to the volume of the brain which controls its sensory and motor functions.  Why are the tongue, fingers and face so huge?  Because a relatively large part of your brain is devoted to their function.  These parts have huge numbers of sense receptors, nerves and muscles.  They are very sensitive and can make delicate and controlled movements.  One of the helpful guides of the museum demonstrating to us how the “reaction time” machines work.  What’s the difference between the two sets of wheels?  The words on both sets of wheels are largely the same – but why does spinning one set make sense and the other nonsense?  If you look carefully at the upper set of wheels, you’ll see that words in the wheels are arranged according to the specific rules of Arabic sentence structure.  Although the lower set of wheels contains many of the same words as the upper set, the “sentences” it produces rarely makes sense.  Why?  There is no grammatical order to the word wheels.  This activity, “Land Like a Cat“, is great fun for the kids.  You stand on a platform that weighs you, and then you try to land on the footprints painted on the floor.  The machine then tells you how “lightly” (or not so lightly) you have landed.  This was a popular activity for the boys!  I won’t embarrass myself by telling you the speed of my so-called karate chops but there was one small Omani boy who was registering punches up to 100 km/hour!  When it comes to blows, karate beats boxing hands down.  Why is the pressure of a karate blow so much greater?  It’s because the impact is so concentrated in so small an area.  When you do a karate “chop”, you lock your shoulder, elbow and wrist to transfer all of your power and momentum over a 10-20 cm area along the edge of your hand.  As a result, you can easily shatter bone, tissue, even kill with this “knife hand” blow.  Because a karate blow reaches maximum velocity 75% of the way through the motion, you aim your blow at a point several centimetres beyond your target for maximum impact.  This was an interesting experiment!  In this bicycle, the mechanical energy of your legs is converted to electrical energy by the generator mounted below.  A generator is a machine that produces electricity by turning a coil of wire inside a magnetic field.  All generators work on this principle, whether the coil is turned by a bicycle wheel, Niagara Falls or the steam produced by a nuclear reactor.  Inside this glass sphere is a blend of rare gases such as neon, argon and krypton.  The small dome in the centre of the sphere is a tiny radio transmitter, broadcasting high-frequency energy.  This energy tears atoms in the gas apart, transforming the gas into a plasma; not a solid, liquid or gas, but a fourth state of matter.  (More on plasma here if you’re interested.)  Here is a quick video of one of the guides demonstrating the Plasma Ball.  Red, blue and green are the three primary colours of light.  Mixed together equally, they produce white light.  All other colours of light also derive from these three primary colours.  Visitors are asked to stand close to the wall with their back to the light and then to take note of what colours they see.  What makes you so thirsty?  Here’s how much water you lose everyday – when you go to the bathroom, when you sweat, even when you exhale:  33% from perspiration and breathing, 5% from feces and 62% from urine.  In fact, you replace your body weight in water every four weeks or so.  This activity was to check how much water is inside you.  You and every other living thing on Earth soak up and release water in a never-ending cycle.  Water digests your food, transports your wastes, and regulates your body temperature.  You can live weeks without food, but only a few days without water.  This is the smaller of the two domes in which there are desks and study rooms available for visiting schools on educational field trips.  The offices are also located here.  The Children’s Museum is next door to the popular Mumtaz Mahal Indian Restaurant and Left Bank which are just behind the museum on the neighboring hill.

One thing that people might not be aware of is that this incredible Children’s Museum is fully provided through the Ontario Science Museum.  I only came to know this when one of the guides asked me where I’m from.  When I mentioned that I was from Canada, he got very excited and explained that all of this was provided by the Ontario Science Centre.  Go, Canada!  🙂

37 responses to “The Children’s Museum in Shatti Al Qurum, Muscat: Educating & Entertaining for 20 Years!

  1. Nice & helps a lot to see message about Muscat, Excellent and thanks for your good effort.

  2. Mathivanan,
    My pleasure! Muscat really is a beautiful city to live in or visit!

  3. Pingback: Decision: Not getting an Ontario Science Centre family membership | sacha chua :: living an awesome life

  4. wow its very nice place for the family i advice to visit it….

  5. LOL! I have been living in Oman for several years but didn’t know that this round structure in Qurum is Children’s Museum. I was laughing to myself after reading it.

    • It took a long time for me to learn what those round structures were as well. I thought they were some type of observatory, haha! 🙂

  6. The Museum is informative and actualy my kids enjoyed being there. However, in my opinion it needs a little renovation!

    • Mushu,
      I agree. I haven’t been there in a while but quite a few of the machines weren’t working when we visited. The ones that were working were a lot of fun though.

      • all the machines work perfect now .
        the main problem some time we need the spare parts and we have to make order from canada and this take more time.

  7. one of the best places in muscat for all the family i like it too much and thnx for the nice photos and the good report.
    if u need any help to know about the museum i am ready bcs i am working there (One of the helpful guides of the museum demonstrating to us how the “reaction time” machines work)
    thnx again.

  8. very well covered entry Andy, I have been here a few times with my son and you have highlighted the ‘fun’ stuff so well, keep it up!!

  9. Is there any entry fee? Do We need to have prior reservations?

    • about the entry fees its free for the school trips who make there reservations in advance and for the family will be like this :
      under 6 yrs old free.
      from 7-12 yrs 100 baiza each.
      and visitors above 12 yrs ols 300 baiza each.

    • entering the museum requires paying charge according to the following:
      under 6 yrs old free.
      from 6-12 yrs old 100 baize each.
      from 12 and above 300 baize each.
      and there is no reservations for the family

      • Thanks for all the info, Anonymous. I get the feeling that this must be Ahmed, the museum guide, who seems to have subscribed to any new comments on this post. If so, thanks Ahmed! 🙂

  10. yes andy i am ahmed and ur feeling is right

  11. i am trying to establish a children’s museum in Bethlehem and I would love to get in contact with some people from the Muscat Children’s Museum, do they have a website or an email i can contact, i can’t seem to find it when i google them.

  12. Layla,
    Good to hear from someone in Behlehem! 🙂 I met your mayor, Victor Batarseh, about 6 years ago when he visited the university I was teaching at in South Korea! I am hoping that Ahmed from the museum will read this comment and be able to get back to you. They can be contacted at (+968)24605368 Another source that might be able to help you out is the Embassy of Palestine here in Muscat at: . All the best to you in your worthy goal of establishing a children’s museum in Bethlehem, the”House of Bread/Meat”! بيت لحم‎

    • so funny that you met Dr. Batarseh, i know him well and he is behind this children’s museum project 100%, we probably won’t be ready to open until 2014 but we are very excited about it. i will try calling the museum and also contacting the Palestinian embassy there, thanks for the contact info. Would be great if Ahmed also responded, would love to learn more about there museum, i didn’t realize that it had been around for so long, looks very cool from the pictures you posted.

      • It truly is a small world! 🙂 You also might want to contact the group from Ontario Canada who helped set up the Children’s Museum in Oman! All the best!

  13. Hello layla about the children’s museum in Oman is under the ministry of heritage and culture and there website
    And the museum contact number 0096824605368.
    this museum seeks provide an engaging and thought provoking experience in science and technology for the whole family in particular for children’s from age of around 8 years and for young and adults too .
    The wide range of interactive exhibits brings science and technology close to the visitor by highlighting their importance in many aspect of everyday life. By encouraging an active process of learning which implies both physics and mental activities. The exhibits are not “hand on “but also mind on.
    Experience the museum thus aim at simulating and fostering its visitor’s creativity and enthusiasm time are directed towards scientific and technological discoveries.

    • thanks so much for the information, i will check it out more in detail. We are looking to do something slightly different in Bethlehem, are age target group is 0-12 years old and we will approach many different subjects science, math, culture, art, environment. But it is very helpful to find out more about what others are doing in the region and hear about their experiences, successes, and more.

  14. Pingback: “LEFT BANK” (LOUNGE.BAR.DINING.) in Shatti Al Qurm | Andy in Oman

  15. Hi, can I know what are the timings nowadays for children museum? And are there separate timings for families as earlier it used to be
    Thanks in advance

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