One thing that struck me as I was walking around the Gadget Show Live this year (disclosure: I got a Press pass) was how much stuff there was for children to do there. It’s always been a very family-friendly show, but it really felt like this year there was more stuff aimed at kids than ever before. This was most obvious in the British Inventors Project area, which showcases the latest British inventions. Last year there was only one child-related product in this area, and this year it felt like almost half of the projects on display were child-orientated. I enjoyed seeing all the kids technology so much that I decided to make it my mission to seek out the best kids activities at the show in order to help you plan your visit. So if you’re taking kids to the Gadget Show Live this year, here’s my list of my top 10 things to do:
1 – Try out the latest in Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality headsets seem to be the big new trend at the Gadget Show Live this year, and there are loads of opportunities to try this technology out all around the show. The best places to get hands on are the Nvidia stand right at the main entrance (E80), and the Samsung stand nearby (C90). Expect large queues for these, so I would recommend either doing this as soon as you arrive, or coming back later on in the day when the crowds have died down.
2 – Play with big toys
In the very corner of the “Better Life” section you will find the Big Toy Track. Here there are three different big toy activities for you to try out. First you can play with the giant remote control land rovers by driving them over a little obstacle course. Then there is Sphero golf – a mini golf course where the Sphero is the ball and you control it with an iPad rather than a golf club. And finally there’s a giant-sized Scalextric track to play with. I know my kids would have spent ages here if I’d had them with me!
3 – Get hands-on with some cool tech toys
Just a few stands away from the Big Toy Track you will find the Thorncrest EMEA Ltd stand (D20). They are allowing you to get hands on with some very cool tech toys, namely the Tiggy products and Osmo. I talked about both of these products recently when I spoke at the Fundamentally Children “Tech Toys for Christmas” event at the Apple Store in Covent Garden, and I recommend them both highly. This is a great chance for your kids to try them out, and then pester you to buy them!
4 – Drive a real car
Young Drivers have opportunities for kids between the ages of 5 and 16 to drive a real car. For the 5-10 year olds this is more like a go-kart than a car, whereas the 11-16 year olds get behind the wheel of a SKODA Citigo. For both experiences there is an instructor sat next to your child, guiding them. Another one that I know my two would have loved if they’d come with me.
5 – Watch drones in action
There are always a lot of drones on show at the Gadget Show Live, and this year is no exception. I always enjoy watching the skilled pilots putting them through their places. This year the best place to see them in action is at the Parrot stand (H60 in the “Power Up” zone), where there is a large caged-off area with continual demonstrations of Parrot products.
6 – Get hands-on with science and technology
In the far corner of the Lab zone you will find the Cambridge Science Centre (M65) and Fab Lab (L58) stands. The Cambridge Science Centre stand has loads of interactive science exhibits where kids can try their hands at all sorts of experiments. Next door the Fab Lab Maker Space has more opportunities to get hands on with tech – they have an area where you can design, build and race your own racing car, the opportunity to have a go at coding with the new BBC Micro Bit computer, or you can test your digital skills with the Digital Driving Licence test.
7 – Have a go at soldering
Yes, I know, letting your kids get their hands on a soldering iron can be risky, but if they’re old enough to behave responsibly around very hot items you should definitely head to the Mad Lab stand (L92 in The Lab) where they can build little electronics kits such as bagpipes, lie detectors and cute little robot badges.
8 – See gadgets from the past
Opposite the Innovation Theatre you can find the Bygone Gadgets stand (M140). Here your kids can marvel at amazing gadgets from years gone by. I was particularly intrigued by the clockwork razor (c1939) and the eye massager and sight restorer (c1920). At 3pm each day there is a talk about these gadgets in the Innovation Theatre, which might be of interest as well.
9 – Attempt a World Record
The team from Guinness World Records can be found at stand M150 in the Arcade zone, and they are trying to set three new records during the course of the show. So if you think you could be the fastest at stacking giant Lego blocks, or driving a Sphero BB-8 around an obstacle course, or if you and a friend can work together to get the highest matching scores on Fruit Ninja, here’s your chance to make it into the record book.
10 – Test out some futuristic transport
All around the Gadget Show Live there are Segways, hoverboards and other futuristic modes of transport. At the Gadget Wheels Test Track, which can be found at the back of The Lab section, you can see selections of these various different “vehicles” in action throughout the day, and possibly even get the chance to try them out yourselves.
These are just my top 10 picks based on what I saw on the opening day of the Gadget Show Live 2016. There are loads of other fun things to see all around the show, and you may even find some things I missed. The show is a great family day out for kids of all ages.
The Gadget Show Live is at the Birmingham NEC until Sunday 3rd April.
Disclosure: I received a press pass to the Gadget Show Live 2016. All words and opinions are my own.