by Yumi There's something about the smell of the trains that takes me right back.
When I was little, there wasn't much that I enjoyed more than a trip to the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology. I loved teetering through the Crazy Kitchen, exploring the locomotives and peering through the windows of the various train cars and playing with the telephone switchboard. And oh, my goodness, the buttons you could press. This was a museum where not only were you allowed to touch things, it was encouraged! (Any museum worth its salt now encourages interactivity, but thirty years ago, that was a pretty exciting thing.)
Today, an outing to the museum brings me as much joy as ever, but for different reasons. I'm introducing my one-year-old son, “Moe”, to this amazing museum. I'm not going to lie – the museum is old and underfunded and would greatly benefit from a new space. But they have been able to work some real magic with their artifacts in the space they have. The artifacts I remember are in new and relevant exhibits, which are hands on and great fun. (And the train area smells as wonderful as ever. My husband and I were trying to identify the smell – it's like engine grease combined with old books. We both grew up in that museum, so we joke that it smells like childhood.)
For a little guy like Moe, one of the best parts of the museum is the bright and colourful Mini Science Area, for kids under five. There's a train table, Duplo blocks, puppets, puzzles and more. It is a safe place for him to explore. He's also a fan of the locomotives and the canoe ride simulator. He can sit patiently and watch a demo in the amphitheater – we especially enjoyed watching the interpreter play with liquid nitrogen!
Older kids will love Connexions – The Plugged in World of Communications, which traces communication from 19th century telegraph to current digital networks. The Search for the Canadian Car, and Canada in Space also provide food for the imagination for little minds and lots to do for little hands. There's also a space simulator that will blow kids away.
As a parent, I love the gift shop, which is a wealth of educational toys and games. I'm also a big fan of the free parking. We recently got a family membership for the museum – and it's paid for itself already. It allows you entry into the Canada Agriculture Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, as well as more than 290 museums and science centres across Canada and around the world.
The museum is a great spot to hold a birthday party – they even have sleepovers! There are day camps, family workshops and programs specifically for preschool groups.
For more information, visit the museum's website at www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca.
Yumi Webster (@yumikid) loves her job, but is dreading her return to work after a year off with her incredible son “Moe”. You can read about Moe’s adventures at kidsquared.livejournal.com, and about Yumi’s own adventures at yumikid.livejournal.com. Yumi has lived in Ottawa all her life.