We all know that kids are like little sponges, picking up information in the classroom, on the playground, in the living room, or countless other places. Kids have an amazing ability to absorb information because so much in this world is new to them.
As parents, we intuitively teach our kids new things every day but some subjects can get left to the school to teach. Science often falls into this category. Yes, it’s true that if little Jimmy learns to swim at home, he indirectly also learns about buoyancy, but we don’t usually talk about these concepts in explicit ways.
And why should we? Because sadly, science is sometimes seen by children as something ‘too difficult’, ‘not fun’, and ‘geeky. Many kids who are initially interested in science choose to pursue other fields simply because they think that they are not good enough at science or that it’s too uncool. This is a stigma that has been around for generations but luckily the number one way to combat it (according to childhood education researchers) is for kids to learn about science in a supportive environment with their parents.
So how can we do that?
And how can we do that when parents themselves may be intimidated by the thought of explaining science to their kids, or feel they do not have the resources to do so? One way is to take your kids to the Ontario Science Centre. Science centres have exactly the type of environment in which kids (and adults too by the way) can learn about the science that interests them in a fun and comfortable way. A science centre provides tools, programs, and space for kids to explore, and resources for parents to explain topics to their children that they might not be familiar with themselves.
Here’s what’s on right now at the Ontario Science Centre. Just match up your child’s interests to an exhibit and you’re good to go!
1. For the child who likes to play video games
Thought science centres were just big halls filled with boring science posters? Think again. The OSC has an entire exhibition called the Science Arcade. In it, you will find racing games, giant balancing beams, and optical illusions complete with an atmosphere of beeping, buzzing and flashing, just like a regular arcade. The difference is that in this one, your kids will walk away with a little more physics knowledge than they walked in with. The Science Arcade is located on level 6 of the building.
2. For the child who loves watching movies
The OSC has an OMNIMAX theatre with a giant dome and wrap-around sound. This November and December, they have four different films to choose from: A Beautiful Planet (featuring stunning images of Earth from space), America Wild: National Parks Adventure (an action-packed adventure film that takes you to soar above red rock canyons and plunges you down snow capped mountains), The Human Body (a film that takes you on a journey to follow a tomato on its way through the body), and Voyage of Time (this one takes you on a ride from the beginning of our universe to now. Also, it’s narrated by Brad Pitt…need we say more?).
The OMNIMAX theatre is located straight ahead of the main entrance on level 1. The schedule can be found here and tickets can be purchased at the counters in the main entrance, either on their own or as part of a package that includes entrance to the whole science centre.
3. For the young ones who like to play and build things
If you have a young one between 18 months and 8 years old, the KidSpark fun zone is the place to go. In this hall, kids and their parents can build roller coasters, cook a meal in a fully equipped pretend kitchen, sing songs in a recording studio, and help (plastic) fish swim along a river. I don’t know about you, but I know I would have a blast in this place, even if I wasn’t there to accompany a child. The KidSpark zone is located on level 4 of the building.
4. For the child who’s fascinated by the stars
The OSC has a fully equipped planetarium with comfy seats that lean back while you lose yourself in the insanely real-looking star filled sky above. They have four different planetarium shows, each of which includes a presenter that talks you through various wonders about the stars. The planetarium is located on level 4, near the KidSpark zone. Check the show schedule when you arrive at the science centre.
5. For the child who might get a kick out of being struck by lighting
We had to throw this one on the list because the OSC has a special traveling exhibition called Wild Weather right now that has been a big hit with visitors big and small. Here, you and your kids can get ‘struck’ by lightning, chase a tornado, make an emergency evacuation plan for a flash flood, and even create your own storm by dancing (intriguing!). The exhibition will be there until January 7 and is in the Procter & Gamble great hall on level 2.