We had taken the Amtrak Cascades from Mount Vernon along the coast of the Puget Sound. Now that we were in Vancouver we needed to find some way to occupy the few hours available to us. Originally I thought we could continue our train adventure and take the Sky Train public transit to some other part of town. Even that would be a stretch, so we decided to visit a place not far from the Pacific Central Station. We spent the afternoon at the Telus World of Science Museum.
The Science Museum is just a short walk from the train station. We had rolled into town right around 11:30, so our first order of business was lunch. I tried to talk Laura into a truly Canadian experience by stopping at Tim Horton’s, but we opted for A&W Root Beer instead. At least we were greeted by Canada geese while actually in Canada, rather than hanging out on our lake back in Greenville.
After lunch we made our way over to the Science Museum. This sits at one end of the False Creek Inlet, across from downtown Vancouver. High rises line the street across from the museum and the Olympic Village is on the south shore of the inlet.
The museum reminded me of the Exploratorium in San Francisco of Discovery Place in Charlotte. There were lots of interactive exhibits geared towards kids. We started by watching a bit of a chemistry demonstration in the main display area. Laura was concerned about the lack of safety glasses.
Next up was a series of activities to test physical prowess, how high you could jump, how hard you could squeeze, etc.
There was one display where you were supposed to move a ball by concentrating on it. You pressed your forehead against three probes then focused on the ball.
We tried it and actually got the ball to move. The probes were painful, though. We figured out that they were measuring galvanic skin response and that was keyed to a magnetic movement of the ball. We could accomplish the same thing by simply pressing our hand to the probes.
There was a display on the sight and sound of physics.
Laura especially like the ferrofluid display. Here’s a short video of the fluids in action when the magnetic field is changed.
There were more displays on mechanical and acoustical physics, including a maker space for kids.
In a former life I’d be trying to figure out how to replicate these displays on a smaller scale for my classroom. I miss those days. I remember building my own laser oscilloscope using a thrift store speaker and a mirror after seeing something similar at Discovery Place. Even now I was thinking of ways these could be done either at home or at school.
There was a natural history section with the requisite dinosaur bones, including the largest intact Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found. There was a set of scales you could step on to see what you weigh compared to other species. I weigh about the same as an ostrich, but a bit more than the common warthog.
We wandered back down to the first floor where there was a snack shop and a lounge area. On the tables around the lounge were puzzles and other things to occupy one’s time. There was also a display of optical illusions.
The exhibits continued outside. There was a farm area with a garden and chickens and larger mechanical displays.
On the outdoor stage we caught another demonstration that included adding Mentos to Diet Coke and an exploding bottle of dry ice. Here are the videos…
We caught more more demonstration inside where they used a Van de Graaff generator to make kids’ hair stand on end to transfer a static shock along a line of kids. Good times.
Laura and I had seen just about everything in the museum. We decided to stroll around the building at the water’s edge. There was a small dock with lots of kayaks and water taxis that crossed False Creek from the Olympic Village to other parts of the city.
There were sculptures and overlooks all along the walkway.
A green space and bike path occupied the space next to the museum along the waterfront. On a gorgeous day like this there were lots of people out and about.
This was my first real visit to Vancouver. I know we only saw one tiny part of it, but the impression I got was of a 20th Century view of a science fiction setting with the gleaming buildings, elevated Sky Train, and shining geodesic dome of the science museum. As is often the case in SciFi stories, there is a dark underbelly to Utopia. When we saw all the high rise apartments we bagan to wonder about affordable housing. Clearly that is an issue as homelessness was rampant in the parks and on the streets and sidewalks.
I still want to come back and explore more of Vancouver. There is so much to see and several parks we would really like to explore. I think we’ll drive up next time, though. The train was interesting, but having the freedom to explore on our own time would be much better.
In the meantime, though, it was time to head back to Pacific Central Station for our trip back home. That will be Part 3 of this series.