Exploring Close to Home: Science World Vancouver

Okay, technically it’s “Telus World of Science” but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone here call it that. “What are you doing this weekend?” “Oh, I think I’ll take the kids to Telus World of Science.” Yeah right. Not that I have any issue with the name; pretty much everything has a corporation attached to it these days, but it was called Science World when I was a kid and it’s hard to think of it as anything else.

We decided to end off our four day weekend with a day at Science World with the kids. It was supposed to rain and we figured we’d be looking for things to do at that point. It had been about two years since our last visit and it had a temporary Lego exhibit, so it seemed like the ideal choice for a family outing.

If you’ve ever been to Vancouver, you’ve probably noticed the Science World building. It is a huge geodesic dome set right on the water, built as part of the futuristic building spree surrounding Expo 86. I remember how my jaw dropped the first time I saw it as a kid and I’m happy to say that as my kids got their first glimpse of the big shiny metal ball as we drove toward it they got pretty excited, too. We felt lazy and just drove straight there, but you can also take Sky Train from many parts of greater Vancouver or the little water taxis from Granville Island.

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We were expecting some pretty big crowds since it was a school holiday, so we arrived when it opened at 10 am. For once, doing a Google search for coupons actually came up with something current and useful and we were able to use coupons for a free child admission with each adult. Since admission is $22.50 for each adult and $15 for each child over three, it was quite a good find. We headed to the Lego exhibit as soon as we arrived since we wanted to get their before the crowds built up.

The Exhibit was called Lego Travel Adventure and it was produced by the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. It was a loosely transportation and travel themed showcase with models of various world landmarks and vehicles. There was also a Lego building area and a few interactive exhibits. It wasn’t huge, but my kids had a great time there, especially my son. I would have liked a bit more of a story line or stronger theme to it, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.

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From there we went to the human body themed exhibit. Now, I wouldn’t know about this personally, but I would think that if you were at all squeamish you’d want to approach this one with a bit of caution. There are some pretty cool graphic exhibits including real footage of a knee replacement surgery and a no holds barred explanation of the “where babies come from” question. And there are no storks in this one. My daughter is quite fascinated by the human body right now and was right in there but fortunately for me she can’t read yet and didn’t seem to notice most of the stuff I was hoping she wouldn’t notice. She did seem to enjoy popping the life sized 38 week old fetus out of the model of the female reproductive system and cuddling it while singing a lullaby, though.

From there we went to the Sarah Stern Gallery, a nature themed exhibit with rocks, bones and animal pelts to touch, a beaver lodge walk through, a huge hollow tree to climb in and even handlers with live animals. We also checked out the Kidspace play area which is geared to children under six. My kids enjoyed it a lot, but I could tell that my five year old would soon be aging out of the that kind of exhibit.

The shape of the building allows for a central core with an open gallery and exhibits around the outside of the building. The centre stage in the middle of the building features exhibits every hour which feature science demonstrations and audience participation. We went to a structure themed show which featured children using soft balls to knock down enormous wooden towers that had been constructed earlier on the stage to demonstrate the structures’ stability. My kids each got a chance to throw a ball, but I’m glad we went to an earlier show since the later ones were pretty packed out as crowds grew.

Following the tower knockdown, we went to a gallery that had bins full of wooden blocks that we were able to use to build our own structures. Some of the demo structures on display were really quite amazing. Both our kids were able to do quite well and build up decent looking structures, although I don’t know if I’d trust my daughter’s “put all the weight on top” building philosophy.

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We spent most of the rest of our visit in the Eureka gallery, which features dozens of hands on exhibits. The kids floated plastic balls down water falls, thumped on drums, pulled on ropes and pulleys, rolled wheels down ramps and basically just ran around from one cool thing to another. There was almost too much to do; I’d turn to my daughter and say, “Now you see, when you move the weight towards the centre it’s more stable and it wobbles less” only to see her run off to some other shiny new thing. But it was all fun. One of her favourites was an exhibit where you put a piece of paper under a pen and then swung pendulums to move the pen and create a pattern. It made a cute little souvenir too.

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Overall, we had a great time at Science World and felt we really got our money’s worth. Even though the crowds were quite large on the school holiday, it was great to be able to go as a family. Last time I took the kids on my own and it felt like I was constantly pulling one kid from something they were interested in to follow the other one who’d seen something else and was heading off. With one adult per child we were able to let them roam free and take as much time as the wanted with each exhibit. My daughter spent most of her time in the Eureka and Body Works areas while my son kept wanting to go back to the Lego exhibit. Unfortunately the Lego exhibit moves on in a few weeks, but the rest will still be there for a while. And if you want to avoid having to teach your kids about the birds and the bees and you’re in the Vancouver area, the Body Works exhibit will be happy to answer any questions they may have!

 

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