This year I have already visited Science World a handful of times. On each occasion it was after hours and adult themed. So today it was a whole new experience visiting during a busy day in summer, with a toddler.
We came to watch their newest IMAX movie, “Superpower Dogs”, but definitely took advantage of being able to explore the dome before and after it. Our guide and leader today was a 3 year old little girl, the child of my friend. And today’s post will be written from her perspective, covering the exhibits and showcases she was most interested in.
I was surprised by how busy it was on a random Friday. There were several youth camps and tour groups running around. Although everyone was cordial for the most part. Majority of the children playing knew to wait their turn and their parents helped to organize shared play. It was the pre-teens in those tour groups that pushed their way through and walked without consideration of those below their knees. My friend admitted that it is because of this increase in traffic and the additional “big kids” present, that during the summer months she avoids such hubs.
Luckily there is a section just for little kids, and one that I never got to see until today. The area comes with stroller parking, in a “lot” that is humoursly sponsored by “Impark”. It has painted stall lines on the ground and meters on the wall for the full “parking lot” experience. And I never realized how many areas around Science World had such spaces to park your stroller at, and how convenient doing so is for a family.
Entry to this play area comes with a height restriction and a nod of approval from a volunteer, helping to regulate it and how many are within it. Once inside, our little leader was immediately drawn to the climbing structure that centred the place. A netted structure that allowed her to climb up a spiralling staircase, scale up a slide, and crawl through a levelled tower. We were able to watch her through the netting as she popped up now and again. She climbed up and down, around and around multiple times, which also helped to tire her out.
This and all the other experiences were labeled, educating parents and caregivers on how much such play helped the development of children. Here, it was how climbing allowed children to see from different vantage points. That their understanding of how others have different view points develop between the ages of 3-4.
She considered playing in the water area that included a dome that released smoke, with buttons to push that made taps run, and a bevy of water toys bobbing about. However, she much rather play alone or with her mother than have to interact or get close to other children.
So instead, we played with clear building blocks on a surface that was lit with transitioning lights. But mom and I had to start playing first for her to be enticed into joining.
Next, we headed to the movie. Grabbing some popcorn on the way. It isn’t popped fresh, but it is at least healthy. They use sunflower oil which is better for you, with 80% less saturated fat.
Heading up to the IMAX theatre was a trek, but our toddler loved it. Walking up and down on the carpeted ramp became a game. I chased her, she chased mom, mom and her chased me. This proved to be more fun for her than the movie itself.
I on the other hand fully loved the show. Though we sat closer to the bottom of the screen, and spent majority of the movie cranking our heads around to take it all in. I can only imagine how much our little viewer could see. Luckily it was only a 50 minute long movie, but it was fully entertaining.
“Superpower Dogs” was narrated by Chris Evans who played the voice of one of the dogs, Henry; introducing other equally impressive dogs to the viewer. Henry works out of BC. He and his human partner are sent in after an avalanche occurs at Whistler mountain. They are dropped off by helicopter and start sniffing out any bodies hidden under the snow. We then followed a puppy named Halo who would under go similar training that Henry did, to get certified for the search and rescue team with her partner/owner. We also met dogs that helped patrol the oceans of Italy, saving those who fall over board. We learning about their autonomy and how they were built for such endurance work. There was also a dog that surfed and helped people and children with PTSD and anxiety. I was most impressed by the dogs that helped to hunt illegal hunters and poachers on the plains of Africa, being able to track their scent for up to 5 days.
Overall, this was a really well shot and well produced movie. The large screen and multiple subwoofers helped to draw you into the experience with a 180 degree view. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, especially being a cat person. I learned so much, and would absolutely recommend it.
Next, it was slow enough to visit their feature exhibit, the Mirror Maze. But even with evenly timed entry intervals, it got crowded in the maze. It is already hard to find your way through with all the reflections, but more so as a smaller toddler, with those larger than you not seeing you. Although we were able to get out eventually.
We were able to pet, poke, and turn plenty in the nature exhibit, a science world staple and a section I myself remember visiting and enjoying when I was younger. Although as their staple exhibit that doesn’t change, I haven’t gone out of my way to return or go through it since. But for a toddler there was so much to see and do.
Wildlife pelts to pet, a scale to see how much you weight in comparison to other animals, and the memorable beaver damn that you can crawl into.
She especially loved the hollow tree that she and her mother could enter and climb together. And she marvelled at the wind machine, allowing her turn a wheel and direct where the wind blew and how the sand dunes in it were formed.
We also were interested in the bees flying in and out of science world and how they made honey.
She is at the age that loves balls, so spent the most time in the discovery area playing with them. We gathered rainbow balls and put them in to a series of tubes with streams of air that sends them through a maze of plastic, only to be shot out of it from the top. We spent the most time here chasing balls and gathering as many as we could
Then continued our ball play with the plastic ones in water. We threw them up and watched them slide down.
Around 4pm we were getting hungry and cranky, so mom knew it was time to go. But there was still so much to see and even more to do. There were also sections we didn’t get a chance to step into, so we complained and expressed how upset we were to leave. And in order to console us, we were told we would be able to return soon.
It was here, that I fully understood the appeal of an annual membership, and how Science World makes for a great afternoon for a young family. A place to go on a rainy day, or where you can to retreat to when it’s too hot and you need air conditioning. There is so much to see and do, with themed shows and live workshops, giving you plenty of reason to return often. For more information on the featured exhibits and all the IMAX movies available, or how you can get an annual pass for yourself, visit the link below.
SCIENCE WORLD at TELUS World of Science
1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 3Z7