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Highlights of Montreal's Science Center: A Family Day Trip in Canada
A Fun and Educational Place to Take the Children in Montreal!
Montreal's Science Center will keep any child entertained and busy for hours! There are plenty of activities and experiments for a child to do, and all have some educational component included. It's a great way to spend a half day if you are ever in Montreal.
Here are some highlights of the science center, which we visited during a family vacation to the Canadian city. The science center is located right in the Old Port section of Montreal.
The image here is of the center's entrance. All photos are by us unless otherwise noted.
Science 26: The Main Activity Room
Experiment with Science From A to Z
The Science 26 room upstairs is the main area for activities. There are 26 stations, but you don't have to go in any particular order. In fact, the center doesn't really even play up the alphabet angle all that much except on its map.
Just let the kids go to whatever area that catches their attention. They will eventually get around to everything at their own pace!
There are stations that teach about levers and pulleys, others that focus on generating electricity and heat, and several concerning balance, among other science concepts.
The large room also has an enclosed space that allows the children to play drums and other musical instruments, and it is soundproof! Thank goodness because when we were in the music space the noise was very loud!
Sitting on a Chair of Nails!
Learning About Spreading Force Among Many Points
You may remember the old Indian fakir's ''trick'' of resting on a bed of nails without injury. Except it's not really a trick. It's science. Understanding the concept of pressure shows that just about anyone can do it!
The activity room had an experiment that demonstrated this, except it used three chairs (see picture) instead of a bed. Visitors are invited to sit in each in turn, and then think about why one feels worse than the others.
I started with the chair that had many small nails (Blunt end up!) and it wasn't uncomfortable at all. The second one had medium-sized nails, and there were fewer and spread out more. And it was uncomfortable and a bit painful. The third one -- with only a few large nails -- hurt!
Why the difference? Because the force of my weight was concentrated on a small number of points when I sat on the chair with the few large nails sticking up. By contrast, my weight was spread out among the many small nails, so it didn't hurt at all.
To Help You Find Your Way Around Montreal
This is one of the tour books we used on our vacation
Bouncing Balls of Latex, Rubber and Maple
Having Fun Learning About Elasticity!
Every child knows that a ball will bounce to different heights depending on what it and the surface it hits are made of, but not everyone knows that the reason is something called elasticity. Elasticity is the property of materials that return to their shapes when they are deformed by force.
What does that mean? The activity in this photo demonstrates. The exhibit had a series of steel balls that you lifted and dropped on different materials. Those materials had different elasticity, and the balls bounced more when they hit latex than hard rubber. And barely bounced at all off a hard material like maple.
What did that show? The latex had greater elasticity, because it became deformed by the force of the ball, then ``snapped'' back into place. The ''snapping'' back into shape caused the ball to bounce higher.
The harder materials are less elastic, so they don't cause the ball to bounce much.
Mission Gaia: Saving the Planet
Can You Make the Right Choices to Keep the Planet Safe?
Next to Science 26 is the Mission Gaia room, and this one contains an activity that is more sophisticated than the main exhibits.
This one begins with an introduction of the many environmental threats that challenge a society and our planet, then moves on to an interactive table-size game where a player must prioritize reactions to threats including train derailments, hurricanes, and war refugees. Pick the best actions and your society thrives. Pick the wrong one and your game ends up all red, like mine did (see photo below).
The game also has two other missions, in which you try to manage a city's growth without destroying the environment and you try to cooperate with other countries in facing such global issues as arctic ice melting or the deforestation of tropical forests.
Our children really enjoyed this room, and spent a long time working together to come up with solutions to the problems offered.
A Short Video of The Mission:Gaia Game - Made by the Science Center!
My Failed Attempt at Mission Gaia!
The TV Production Room
Learning How to Put Together a News Report
Downstairs in the center is a TV production room that can get very busy at times because there is a limit to how many computers available at any one time. We had to check back twice before there was one free us to use.
It was worth the wait. The computer program walks the user through producing a television report on such topics as ''Should cloning be allowed'' and ''Should children be pushed to excel at sports'' through compiling recorded comments from experts on various sides plus ''man-in-street'' comments from young people.
In addition, the user must record his own intro and ending segment and put all the pieces together in a spot a few minutes long. The reports are then showed on a big screen at the front of the room, sometimes to hilarious result!
We had fun making some reports, with our children being silly in their intros and closing statements and pretending to be famous newscasters.
This photo shows the younger half of Goldenrulecomics putting together a report.
Cool Vehicles, Children's Room and the History of the Port
The Rest of the Montreal Science Center
Because the science center is in one of the old warehouses that once served Montreal's Old Port area, there is an exhibit on shipping and ports along one hallway. It's a pretty dry topic for most children -- though the giant tire was pretty cool -- but adults might like learning about the history of the area.
Also exhibited along the hallways are a few solar-powered vehicles that were built for competitions, such as an electric car built by college students in 1992. There's also a human-powered submarine that set world records in 1997. See here for more details about this amazing series of submarines.
The center's other areas include a children's rooms, aimed at keeping kids under 7 occupied, and an IMAX theatre, both of which we skipped.
We spent about half a day at the center, and if it had been our children's choice we would have stayed even longer. It is well worth checking out if you plan on vacationing in Montreal with kids.
Have You Ever Been to Montreal's Science Center?
Book Your Hotel Room Today!
We have used Hotels.com to book our recent vacations, and haven't had a problem yet. You do have to spend a bit of time reading the reviews to make sure the hotel you select is exactly what you want, of course. Sometimes a good price just means that the hotel has had a lot of poor reviews and has dropped what it charges to attract customers!
One other bit of good news is that you get a free night's stay after booking 10 nights. The freebie has to be on a subsequent trip, but it has helped us save money. Check out Hotels.com today:
For More Information
- MontrÃ©al Science Centre
The science center's website
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