Ontario Science Centre (Toronto)

by MaxPower

Kids going ape

The Ontario Science Centre advertises ‘Discover how much fun science can be’ and it definitely delivers, to a point. The OSC is a classic example of ‘hands on’ learning, and how to make science ‘fun’. Of course you can tell from this description already that the OSC’s target market is children probably age 5 – 14. Regardless, the enterprising R4NT crew visited the OSC, thanks to Toronto Tourism arranging the visit, on a blustery November day to test out the exhibits.

After being in the car for an hour – due to a traffic jam caused by the Santa Claus parade in downtown Toronto – the R4NT crew was antsy to get going. Whisked through the line we grabbed our tickets. The tab is $14 for adults, $10 for youths (aged 13 – 17) and $8 for children (5 – 12), and another eight bucks for parking. That quickly adds up to a pricey day out, however, as a mother beside us in line found out, one seasons pass for $100 bucks which includes free parking and admission and half off IMAX movies almost paid for itself in one visit.

We started off the tour with a quick stop in one of the auditoriums spread throughout the complex where they were having a ‘robot Olympics’ complete with guys in white lab coats shouting out play-by-play. The auditorium was packed to capacity and there was only standing room for the R4nt crew. No ring side seats? Apparently not. Anyway I was thinking ‘Robot Wars’ as we walked in and saw a huge 6 foot wide robot. Whoops, sorry, more like robots made from mechano and trying to find their way around a maze to put out a candle. We watch for five minutes as this little robot, which looks like it’s powered by ‘elastic bands’ (as D4V put it) navigates the maze using only right hand turns. It finally gets to the candle (which it was supposed to put out) then the thing turns around and trundles off in the other direction. YAWWWWNNN

Ok, enough of this non-participatory viewing, on to the exhibits. First let us explore SPACE! Space has got to be cool right? It’s space. Oh wait, everything in the exhibit is from 1978, hmmm why’s that? Well apparently because they haven’t really done anything new in space since then. D4V and I both agree that man should make a trip back to the moon, start up some space tourism and get this stuff going. Right well, they did have this cool little zero-grav cart thing that you could try and ‘dock’ with a space station or some such. Probably about six or seven kids in line for that puppy. At 3 minutes per ride, that exceeds my attention span and probably would exceed all of the kids as well.

On to the next exhibit. The Living Earth. There were some cool parts to this and it looked like it had been redone recently. D4V got some shots of the aquariums which were self sustaining biohabitats, where fish lived without the need for food because it was produced naturally through coral growth. However the enviro-socialist skew that many of the displays took was a bit disconcerting when you think that these exhibits are supposed to educate impressionable children. On to the next set of exhibits – this place is freaking huge.

The communication exhibit, there could be some cool stuff here, right? Well there is a huge internet café (where I took the liberty of loading up R4NT on the screens of a bunch of computers, to educate the masses you see) and then some exhibits espousing multiculturalism, what that has to do with communication is a bit beyond me. D4V and I took a shot at the reflex game while Beauty was analyzing the psychological ‘communication’ exhibits.

On to the highlight (for me anyway) – the Transportation and Science Arcade, where we witnessed a blacksmith forging metal in molds… actually pretty cool, I’ve never seen anything like that before. The metal was heated up in a forge, the casts were made out of sand, and then the molten metal was poured into the casts. Couple minutes later, they displayed the finished products an impressive array of intricate metal work. Very impressive.

So now we are at about 2.5 hours into our tour, one more stop, the Human Body exhibit, which Anhedonia was interested in. Actually, there isn’t too much about the human body, its more about AIDS, reproductive systems and other general diseases. The reproductive systems models are nice and obtuse so that the kids ‘don’t-really-know-what-they-are-looking-at’. “Look Mommy ovaries!”

Bottom line, over the age of fourteen and don’t have kids? Take a pass. Have kids? Well odds are you will fall into two distinct parental categories. One who lets the kids run rampant, screaming, yelling, budding in line and creating kiddie havoc. The other set actually sits down with their kids at the exhibits, explains concepts and answers questions. Let’s guess who were in the majority here. If nothing else for all you twenty-somethings, the Ontario Science Centre in and of itself is a great form of birth control!

  • Ontario Science Centre (Toronto)
  • by MaxPower
  • Published on December 1st, 2003
Ontario Science Centre (Toronto)
Worthwhile (if you have kids - Skip Otherwise)
Science Centre
To get your learn on

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