Vancouver, Canada is home to one of the world’s most interactive museums, Science World at Telus World of Science. The non-profit attraction is located inside an iconic geodesic dome that was originally built for the 1986 World’s Fair. Following Expo 86, the building was transformed into an impressive science center that opened its doors in 1988. Today, Science World is home to a 400-seat OMNIMAX theater and a range of themed exhibits focused on the human body, sustainable environments, wildlife, technology, innovation and more.
Science World Exhibits
Visitors to Science World will have access to a wide variety of exhibits, most of which offer some level of interactivity. While the activities won’t be accessible to everyone, there is great diversity in the physical inputs that the exhibits demand. As such, the level of accessibility varies between each exhibit and the particular abilities you (or your children) have.
Here are a few of my favorite exhibits at Science World (interactive and otherwise):
Our World Sustainability Gallery
My first stop at Science World was the BMO Sustainability Gallery on the ground floor. This gallery introduces visitors to the individual practices and technology that are allowing us to create more sustainable communities and societies. As we continue to make use of the Earth’s natural resources, we’ll need to find ways to conserve, preserve and replenish them.
Two of the gallery’s many exhibits stood out to me. The first was a game that teaches the importance of conserving water. Perhaps in a twist of irony, you preserve the water in your glass by plugging holes with a… water cannon! This is a fun activity for children and adults of all ages, and the cannons are at a great height to accommodate wheelchair users.
The second exhibit was a wind turbine. By rotating the angle of the fan blades, you could better harness the wind’s energy, converting it to electricity. As the turbine’s blades spun, an indicator lit up to show how much energy was being generated. There is also no shame in starting the fan just to feel the wind through your hair – I say this because I did it a few times myself. 😉
Eureka! Hands-on Discovery
The Eureka! Gallery offers visitors an opportunity to experiment with water, light, sound and motion in a variety of innovative ways.
Especially delightful to children is the maze wall. Insert a ball into one of the receptacles and watch as air pressure feeds it through the network of tubes and launches it from the top. Other interesting Eureka! exhibits include the water table (with lessons in gravity and motion) and a unique opportunity to see what happens to the strings of a guitar when it is played.
One of my absolute favorite exhibits in the gallery was the lever system, which could be used to lift a heavy hippopotamus figure. The exhibit introduces visitors to lever systems, their components and the governing law of the lever. It’s a cute way to offer an introductory physics lesson to children and students. Mechanical advantage, anyone?
Live Performances at Family Centre Stage
If you are visiting Science World with children, you’ll definitely want to check out a live performance at the Peter Brown Family Centre Stage.
Live science shows are offered each hour, each touching on a different theme. Topics include air, bubbles, electricity, fire, illusions, locomotion and sound, among others. The presenting scientists are personable and engage the audience in discussions, experiments and demonstrations. Children seemed to be especially engaged when I visited and watched a show called “Science Surprises.”
Other Exhibits of Note
You’ll not run out of things to do at Science World, as there are interesting displays placed throughout the center. Here are three more that really grabbed my attention.
Thanks to an infrared camera and display screen, I was able to see a heat map of my body at Science World. The photo I snapped of the result may be the world’s first infrared wheelchair travel selfie!
In the second photo above, you’ll see the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur (a reproduction). He was clearly in the holiday spirit, carrying a bushel (is that right?) of mistletoe. Sorry, no kisses to report, but that would make for a great couple’s photo.
On my way out of the museum, I saw a truly remarkable thing…. a wheelchair racing game. Part of the center’s gallery on the human body, the contraption pictured above allowed able-bodied people to test their endurance by rolling in a stationary wheelchair. Progress through a race course was displayed on a television screen, and participants battled head-to-head.
They should have made this feature easily accessible to actual wheelchair users, but didn’t. A transfer would likely be difficult for most of us (myself included), but if you can muster – it might be fun to race an able-bodied friend! What I do like, and this is a first for me, is seeing an attempt at including the disability experience in an educational museum. Using a wheelchair is an exhausting process that requires a lot of determination, but most people don’t realize that. Perhaps, in a way, this interactive exhibit can pass that message along on our behalf.
The cost of admission to Science World is $23.25 CAD (~$18.42 USD) for adults and $18.50 CAD (~$14.66 USD) for seniors ages 65+. Discounted admission is also available for students and children, but there is no discount offered to people with disabilities. Tickets can be purchased at the museum or online at www.scienceworld.ca.
Location & Transportation
Science World is located within one block of numerous wheelchair accessible public transportation services. City bus routes 3, 8, 19, 22, N8 and N19 stop along there adjacent Main Street. The Vancouver SkyTrain’s Expo Line is also accessible from the Main Street-Science World station.
A bit farther away, but still within walking distance, is the Pacific Central Station. The station offers connections to the Amtrak Cascades and VIA Rail train services. Greyhound motor coaches also depart from Pacific Central.
In a museum dedicated to science and technology, Science World really shines in the diversity of its exhibits as well as in their interactivity. Three hours of time are recommended in order take in the complete experience. Start early in the day, so that you won’t be crunched for time. Science World is sure to inspire curiosity and interest in visitors of all ages, but particularly for children.
Have you visited Science World in Vancouver?
How did you enjoy your visit?
Let us know in the comments below!