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5 questions to ask your kids when you visit Science World


What's with those coloured squares in the windows? What's the floor made of?

The expansion and renovations at Science World, the fun centre at the edge of downtown Vancouver, are nearly complete. And along with the new galleries and hands-on experiences for kids of all ages are some nifty new technologies.

Some of the innovations, like the Dyson Airblade hand driers in the bathrooms, are obvious. Others, like the solar chimney that has been built into the new entrance foyer, aren't.

But with all of them, explains Kevin Kearns, there's an opportunity to play with them and experiment. Even if it's as simple as leaving one of the rooftop garden plots unplanted so that staff can research what kinds of things might grow.

"We're a science centre," he says. "We want to ask questions. And answer them."

During a tour of the facility, Kevin, vice president of exhibits and facilities, said he hopes people start thinking about the choices that they are making every day.

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Five questions

The next time you visit, here are some questions your family can ponder.

  1. In the Our World gallery, what is the floor made of?
    Recycled tires. An exhibit in the gallery tells the consumption story, and shows what various materials — like rubber tires and computer circuit boards — look like in different stages of the recycling process.
  2. Why do some windows in the Eureka gallery turn white?
    The smart windows in the Eureka gallery can block the light from outside with a switch. The glass used in the windows has a layer of liquid crystals, similar to what is in many flat screen televisions. When the switch is off, the crystals are randomly arranged and scatter the light coming in from outside. When the switch is on, a small amount of electricity causes the crystals to line up, which allows light to pass through.
  3. On Science World's dome, what colour can the lights become?
    By blending red, green and blue colours, the LED bulbs that dot the dome can illuminate in any of 4 million colours. And because they are all independent, the dome can light up in numerous colour patterns, too. Kevin has an iPhone app that he can use to change the lights in real-time. Sadly, that app is not publicly available.
  4. In the Eureka gallery, what is the purpose of the coloured squares on the windows?
    Many of them are photo voltaic (PV) cells that generate electricity from the sun's light. Notice that not all the squares are PV cells, though; some are decorative. The only squares that generate electricity have wires attached to them in the glass.
  5. There are bees that live in the hive inside the Search gallery. Where do they get pollen?
    The hive is connected to the outside, so technically the bees can — and do — fly as far as they need to in order to collect pollen. But thanks to the new green roof on Science World, the Search gallery bees only need to fly up. On a recent visit, one section of the garden filled with flowering shrubs and perennials was abuzz — literally — with bees.

If you visit Science World

Print out a copy of these Science Safari worksheets that can guide your family's exploration: