When the invitation went out from Karen and Lara at Kids In The Capital for a blogger (or two) to attend the members’ only opening of the new Vale Earth Gallery at the Canadian Museum of Nature, the timing couldn’t have been better. I was on the cusp of starting a new job at NRCan in the Earth Sciences Sector, so I wanted to spend an evening at the museum learning more about the work of my colleagues, in addition to introducing my two older children to the wonders of geology.
The result of two years of planning and three months of renovations, the 8,000 sq. ft. Vale Earth Gallery is a smaller, permanent renewal of the gallery that opened in 2010. There is quite a lot to experience in the gallery, from building a volcano to exploring a limestone cave with a dripping waterfall (complete with life-like bats) to manipulating a two-metre animated globe. The hands-on exhibits make the whole experience literally come alive for both parents and children, with plenty of buttons to push, knobs to spin, and levers to pull.
Best of all, however, are the 14 giant minerals, including crystals, which reportedly weigh between 45 and 225 kg. It was neat to be able to show my daughter one of the best examples of an amethyst – the February purple gem that also happens to be my birthstone – in the world. I was entranced by the diamonds from theNorthwest Territories’ Akati mine, cousins to the stone in my engagement ring by source alone.
My teenage son enjoyed himself immensely with the Sedimentator, the Magmanator, and the Metamorphicator, three simulation machines that allow visitors the chance to create their own type of rock. The ability to cause an earthquake, albeit in a controlled setting, created one of the best bonding opportunities between a child and his stepfather that a mother could ask for. Their goofy grins will forever be embedded in my memory.
Entry to the Vale Earth Gallery is included with regular museum admission. For full details, including fees and hours, go to nature.ca.
Victoria Martin blogs at Girl Gone Wired (www.girlgonewired.net), a parenting and lifestyle blog; and is the Social Media Lead for Kruising for Keely (www.kruisingforkeely.ca), a family team devoted to raising funds for a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. She lives inOttawa,Ontariowith her fiancé, David, and their three children.