Ontario Science Centre
" The following is an article written by Kevin Stuart about his trip to the Ontario Science Centre. To truly appreciate Emily Provincial Park, you need to visit it in person. Have fun! Visit their website (click HERE) for more information."
by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Kevin Stuart
For Kids Of All Ages...
For more than four decades the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto has been a must-visit for kids of all ages and especially kids who love to touch things. (Show of hands, anyone?) Located on Don Mills Road near Eglinton, you’ll find a facility jam packed with tons of hands on displays and exhibits that will challenge and entertain the mind and body. There are six levels offering insights into the human body, weather forecasting, geology, and the earth and its creatures.
There are also mini workshops that invite kids to participate and learn. The first such exhibit we encountered was in the Procter & Gamble Great Hall: CSI – Crime Science where their fingerprints are taken then analyzed. We observed that while everyone’s fingerprints are unique, there are five common pattern groups – the ulnar loop, radial loop, arch, tented arch and our son’s stamp – the whorl. There is more you can read as to how these are analyzed and used in criminal investigations.
Special Exhibition Hall
From there we journeyed down to level 6 where the Special Exhibition Hall is located. It is home to roving exhibits on temporary display. During our visit it was the world of Reptiles, from the prehistoric to the very modern. Beware, if you are not a fan of snakes, you may just wish to put a blinder on one side and move to where geckos, chameleons, turtles are all displayed in naturalistic settings. Not only could we see but also learn about the sounds some of these creatures make. Helpful if you ever hear a crocodile making a certain hiss nearby. For those who do love or are fascinated with snakes, there are various kinds from different continents to view and learn about. It’s comforting to see that we have relatively tame snakes in Canada. Incidentally, it’s mentioned that snakes evolved from other reptiles who somehow lost their legs, eyelids and other body parts. Maybe that explains why they can be so ornery!
Interesting experiments with wind power and gravity could be found in The Weston Family Innovation Centre. Among its many displays are musical notes that make liquid “jump”; also, a chance to compare how friction works with various surfaces; and a build-your-own rollercoaster spot. Another Ontario Science Centre must-see was having your portrait transplanted into a mobile bubble display. As Spock would say – “Fascinating”.
Our Inner Selves
On level 5 we learned more about our inner selves – literally – with the Human Body exhibits. Everything from birth to advanced age is covered. In fact, there is even a machine that snaps your picture, then digitally ages it in front of you so you can get a glimpse of yourself in the future! Depending on your view of aging, this one may not be for everyone.
One of the most enduring parts of the Ontario Science Centre has to the demonstration of the Van de Graaf generator or the ball that makes your hair stand up! The experiment is superbly guided and allows kids to experience transfer of electricity in a safe way. This is located in the Science Arcade which, as its name suggests, offers kids innumerable ways to touch and learn without spending a roll of loonies!
Up and Beyond...
On Ontario Science Centre level 4 one can learn about the infinite vastness of the world beyond ours – Space. Here one can travel back in time to view the first galaxies, see a real moon rock, pilot and rocket chair (quite challenging) and other insights into some of the mysteries of space. Directly across from this area is Kids’ Park where they have space to run, make music and other sounds, even “work” at a grocery store checkout. Of particular interest to many was the booth where your shadow stays on the wall, even after you’ve moved away. Go ahead, say it…COOL!
After all this activity you can replenish in the Valley Marketplace Restaurant on level 5. Enjoy the view after choosing from their wide selection of foods, drinks and desserts. For lighter fare on a different level (level 2 to be exact) check out the light lunch kiosk.
If you still have time leftover there are IMAX movie attractions based on several different science themes. Viewing it is like living it right in the moment.
The Ontario Science Centre is an attraction that has amused and amazed generations of children and adults alike. It is an appropriate stand by for those rainy or cool like days when the kids are shouting “I’m bored!” Boredom is one commodity that’s not available there! It is entertaining, just don’t tell the little ones it’s educational too.