Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Science World revisited (and renovated): fun with kids in Vancouver

This past weekend the kids and I headed to Science World in downtown Vancouver. It is one of their favorite places to spend a rainy (or not so rainy) day, but last year, our visits there were a little problematic since so much of the building was closed off for renovations.

The kids absolutely loved the new dinosaur exhibit that went up in 2011, but a lot of the fun machines and devices and thingamajigs the kids like to twiddle and fiddle with were either out of sight, or squeezed into smaller spaces. No longer! All of Science World is now open to visitors, and there is a lot to see.

New and improved
Science World is definitely new and improved. The entire entrance area has been rebuilt and expanded. The extra space and new layout is designed to better handle lineups of visitors, which is a welcome change.

RAAAAA! (I identify with T-Rex a lot.)
There is also an entirely new exhibit called Our World just inside the entrance, which has interactive displays all about energy and water use, electricity, and more. The kids favorite: using water cannons to spray water at changing targets on the wall. Though whether they really got that it was about how to use water resources responsibly, I'm not sure.

On the second floor, up that winding ramp, there's a lot of new space and a lot of new gadgets for the kids to play with, as well as all their old favorites (like the various exhibits with water... and as usual, both kids ended up with wet sleeves!). My son loved all the new windows up there that give visitors a spectacular view of Vancouver and False Creek. I think he could have spent an hour just watching the rain and the boats!

According to Science World's website, the renovations added 14,000 square feet of space, and the second floor was actually almost confusing with all the rooms, and space, and new areas. Old gadgets were in new places, and there were lots of new gadgets in old and new places. I think we'll need another visit just to get used to it!

The Extreme Dinosaur exhibit is still in place, and the kids still loved it. (My favorite is definitely the T-Rex.) The kids also enjoyed the expanded Search Sarah Stern gallery with lots of interactive displays and lots of animals to look at too, from snakes and snails to guinea pigs and leopard geckos.

Other improvements
The White Spot restaurant downstairs has more seating now, and also more space overall. I'm hoping the food has improved as well, since I haven't always been impressed by the food quality there. There is also a separate room where you can sit down and eat if you brought a lunch or snacks along.

One really interesting room I hope to explore more on our next visit, is the expanded puzzles and illusions exhibit which features tons of tricky hands-on puzzles for kids and adults. If you and your kids are at all into brain-teasers, this is the place for you.

For a full list of permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as the various shows and movies at Science World, check out their website.

Making a dinosaur move.

Is it worth a visit?
It's not cheap to visit Science World. General admission for adults is $23.50. Youth admission (13-18 years old) is $19.75, and kids 3-12 years old pay $16.75. A family pass for 2 adults and up to 4 kids is $83.50. My family has an annual family membership that we get at a discounted rate through my husband's work, and because of that, we go a lot. For locals, I'd almost recommend getting the annual membership: if you visit just twice in a year, it pays for itself.

And it is a fantastic place for kids (and adults). Children can run around, they can touch, play, and interact with (and try to break) almost every single exhibit and gadget in the whole place. That's what Science World is all about: hands-on education, play and entertainment. There are science shows, movies, and dinosaurs. There are exhibits about the body, geology, animals, electricity, weather, and much more. And if your kids are at all into dinosaurs and you haven't seen the Extreme dinosaurs, then that's worth a visit in itself.

My how-to-get-there tip
Take the Skytrain if you can. It's the best and easiest way to get there, and you won't have to worry about parking. There is lots of parking outside, but it's pay-parking (unless you find a spot on a side-street), and seriously: it is just easier and (in my kids' opinion) more fun to ride the Skytrain. Get off at the Main Street/Science World station. Or, if you're staying in downtown Vancouver and the weather is nice: just go for a walk around False Creek!


  1. The changes sound awesome, my 3 yo is dino-crazy!! We haven't gone for a couple years, but I'm adding it to our summer travel list :)

  2. The dino stuff is awesome. Even I feel a bit like a dino-crazy preschooler in there!


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