A mere 70 kilometers away from Burlington the Ontario Science Centre has been encouraging kids to touch, feel, sniff, compete, discover and interact with their stuff since 1969. Till April 24th they invite you to experience their gobsmacking Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age.
We brought a couple of the grands, nine-year-old William and seven-year-old Jadzia to help us enjoy the experience. The shaggy elephant-like beasts reside, however, on level six, at the bottom of the center at the far end of the hall. The challenge will be to herd the two away from all the button pressing, rock climbing, snowflake dancing, and yes, even the fish tank. What nearly does us in is the circus! Interactive tightrope walking and acrobatic training captivates the eye right at the beginning of the exhibits, level two. The science behind swallowing a sword, the physiology behind the contortionist, all tantalize. The real trap becomes the dress up area. Lots of mirrors and bear, tiger, lion and circus performing costumes to try on. Jadzia has always wanted to be a cat. William finds his inner bear.
The coaxing and cajoling to move to the mammoths, however, becomes entirely worth it. Your jaw will drop. A huge lifelike replica of Lyuba, the 42,000 year old baby mammoth dominates the room. But all the visuals are awesome, from the metal mastodon sculptures to the prehistoric cat replica. And you can touch mammoth skin, hair and tusks! Jadzia becomes addicted to wrestling her metal mammoth head (complete with tusks) with others. William likes the cave painting and time travelling (backwards) video.
Bulletin! No longer is there a gift shop to up the expense of a visit. Of course you can add an Imax experience ($7) to your entrance ticket ($22). ($6 to a $13 admission for children 3-12) ($6 to the $16 for youth 13-17, or seniors. The real deals to me are the annual memberships. My favourite is the annual Gold Level for $230 which gives you free parking, Imax, special previews and screening events, 20% off restaurant food, four guest passes and admission to 300 science centers worldwide. Just in case you can’t drag the kids through the exhibits, you can always visit again.
No sooner do we drag them away from the fur and sparkle than they get captivated with rearranging their faces on a video monitor and creating their nutritional menus on a computer.
One adult per child is definitely recommended plus GPS locators and cell phones or walkie talkies to keep track of everyone.