Taking a fresh look at the Ontario Science Centre

ZARNA SHAH
27 September 2013

Above: The Ontario Science Centre (BuBZ)

My childhood visits to the Ontario Science Centre (OSC) helped convince me to pursue a career in the sciences. For more than 40 years, the OSC has played a vital role in Ontario’s education system by celebrating all facets of science and technology. While inspiring young people, it serves up a feast of ideas to science educators and parents. A visit to the OSC is a chance to learn about complex scientific concepts like genetics, aerodynamics and sustainability—all in a captivating environment.

Fast fact: The Ontario Science Centre runs a Science School for Grade 11 Ontario students, who can earn their Grade 12 science and math credits. They’re easy to spot in their red lab coats.For example, the OSC’s recent Game On 2.0 exhibit allowed visitors to play 150 different video games and experience the latest in virtual reality gaming. Gamers of all ages were also able to learn interesting facts about the history of video games. Did you know that Mario’s original name was Mr. Video?

Video games are not just fun; they have some educational benefits as well. Studies have shown that action video games can improve visual decision-making skills. One recent study involving 72 participants showed that real-time strategy games can improve cognitive flexibility, which refers to your ability to think on your feet and learn from past mistakes.

The OSC offers countless other activities for visitors of all ages. In you haven’t visited since you were a kid, you might not recognize the place. It received a complete face-lift in 2006 as part of the OSC’s with the $40-million Agents of Change fundraising initiative. From learning the art of papermaking to experimenting with the giant “bubble photo machine”, there’s plenty to put your curiosity into overdrive. You can pilot a rocket chair, test paper airplanes in a wind tunnel, and explore the rain forest—all in one day!

Fast fact: The Ontario Science Centre attracted over 1 million visitors in 2010.The Electricity Demo is one of the most popular permanent exhibits. It uses a Van de Graaff generator to produce static electricity, which moves through you when you touch a metal sphere. As you stand on an insulated surface, the charge builds up and repulsion of similar charges forces your hair to stand on end.

The OSC strives to present science in such an interactive and fun way that you can’t help but enjoy learning. It plays an important role in inspiring the scientists of tomorrow. In fact, no matter what your age or background, the OSC’s cross-cultural and cross-generational approach to science promises to satisfy your appetite for knowledge!

References

OSC publications

Annual Report, 2009-2010 (Ontario Science Centre) Virtual Tour (Ontario Science Centre)

General news and science websites

Playing Video Games Can Boost Brain Power (Science Daily) Scholarly publications Glass BD, Maddox WT, Love BC. 2013. Real-Time Strategy Game Training: Emergence of a Cognitive Flexibility Trait. PLoS ONE. 8(8):e70350. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0070350 Green SC, Bavelier D. 2003. Action video game modifies visual selective attention. Nature. 423:534-537.

ZARNA SHAH

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