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School’s out for summer. And this means finding ways to keep the kids busy…and sometimes sneak in a bit of unexpected learning. This is what Vancouver’s Science World has been doing for years. Through hands-on exhibits they’ve been putting the word fun back in learning.
Here’s what the experts had to say when I asked them about Science World:
I learned a lot at the OMNIMAX about the Hubble Space Telescope. It needed a new lens so it could see better. The Eureka! exhibit has some cool illusions with mirror images. And they have a virtual reality machine where you can fly like a bird and see a bird’s eye view of the city”. – Liam, 11yrs old
Don’t miss seeing the special exhibit…because next time you go, it might not be there. I liked the past Pixar exhibit where there were some magnetic robots. The new one is the Mirror Maze. I also like the exhibit with the beaver house”. – Ellis, 9yrs old
I like the wall light bright where I can change all the colours”. – Sloane, 4yrs old
My nephew and nieces are regular visitors to Science World and have a lot to say about the centre. They take advantage of their annual family membership so they can visit often. And even though they’ve been to Science World numerous times, their excitement and enthusiasm clearly came through in our conversation – including the time they had to rescue their younger sister from the Wonder Gallery, an interactive space in the centre designed for children under 5 to explore by crawling, climbing, and playing with colour and light.
And building with huge blue blocks. Science World doesn’t miss an opportunity to get even the youngest learners interested in engineering –
“Building with Blue Blocks allows children to create large structures, and to learn that stable and sturdy structures resist gravity and other forces. While building structures of various sizes, children can ‘try out’ different building strategies to see what makes the sturdiest structure”.
Science World is for all ages – from babies in strollers to visiting grandparents…there’s something for everyone.
Introducing Kids to Science…and More
There’s no doubt about it, a trip to Science World is fun. But there’s more behind it than just a fun family day. It may be subtle, but your kids are being introduced to science and math concepts and vocabulary that sparks their interest and inspires them to be just as involved when they’re learning in the classroom.
As parents, we all want to give our kids the tools they need to succeed. In a 2015 research report by Let’s Talk Science, a Canadian organization that empowers and supports STEM learning, 75% of parents believe that most jobs will require math and science skills.1
Science World is a great tool to bring those skills into the fun zone. It brings all STEM concepts to life by letting kids explore at their own pace those subjects that interest them the most. There is some powerful learning going on when children can touch and play with objects, testing their own theories about how something should work and what happens when those objects react in a way they weren’t expecting. The elements of surprise and wonder when kids visit a science centre is a phenomenal way to get them to explore and think…and to love science.
Here are just some of the things that Science World has for Canada’s future scientists:
Kids are curious about all sorts of things, and Science World makes sure to keep this curiosity alive with feature exhibits that are always changing. This is a great way to expose kids to different topics, getting them to think about new ideas in innovative ways. Past exhibits included “The Science Behind Pixar”, the science and technology behind making Pixar animated films. And “The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!”, which focuses on the wonders of nature and science.
The current feature that runs through until September is “A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature”. This immersive exhibit introduces kids to math patterns, such as the Fibonacci sequence in spirals, showing them that math is all around them and in nature.
Science World Galleries
There are some permanent galleries at Science World that focus on specific topics. Eureka! lets kids experiment with the “what-if?” concept – using light, motion, sound, and water they can touch and push and manipulate objects and learn on their own what happens next.
To challenge special concepts and make them think, there’s the Puzzles and Illusions Gallery. Using metal rings, ropes, and wooden blocks, this exhibit is a good way for kids to be creative and learn about something called pareidolia (par-i-DOH-lee-a), where the brain tries to find meaningful images and shapes out of random puzzles and pictures.
My personal favorite gallery is the art display area which highlights the creative works of local artists. Art currently on exhibit is “Tides by Jan de Beer”, a collection of large paintings where the artist puts recycled paint and other materials to canvas. How does this relate to science? “Both scientists and artists are driven by an urge to explore and uncover the unknown”, is how Jan de Beer describes it.2
Science World isn’t just about hands-on activities – the OMNIMAX Theatre is a good place to sit back and watch a film on the biggest dome screen in the world. The wrap-around screen and digital sound puts you right into the action. Films are always changing so there’s something new to see with each visit. One of the current films is “Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation”, taking you right to the molten edge of an active volcano.
If you’re not in Vancouver, don’t worry. With equal opportunity for kids to be immersed in science and technology there’s the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto – check out the planetarium and take a voyage through space. Or there’s the TELUS Spark science centre in Calgary, with its Open Studio where kids are encouraged to mix up science and art.
The next time you visit Science World, watch as your kids explore and follow along as their inquisitive little minds take them down the path of fun learning.
1Let’s Talk Science. (2015). 2015 Spotlight on Science Learning Report: Exploring Parental Influence. Retrieved on June 06, 2019 from https://letstalkscience.ca/About-Us/Research-and-Publications/2015-spotlight
2Science World. (2019). Meet the Artist: Jan de Beers. Retrieved on June 06, 2019 from https://www.scienceworld.ca/blog/meet-artist-jan-de-beers