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Butterfly and pupa at Science North in Sudbury

A Visit to Science North in Sudbury is Not Just for Kids

Some time ago I was in Ontario visiting my friend Jo at Miss Monneypenny’s retreat in Espanola. On the last day of my visit we stopped in at Science North in Sudbury – northern Ontario’s most popular tourist attraction for a 1.5 hour visit followed by a most interesting lunch at the onsite restaurant.

Science North in Sudbury, opened in 1984, is made up of two buildings in the shape of snowflakes. The larger building sits on top of outcrop and is linked via an underground rock tunnel to the smaller building that houses the restaurant, cafeteria and administration offices.

I loved the design! It really speaks to the area especially since Sudbury is famous for its mines.

Beautiful design integrating natural rock with lots of light
Beautiful design integrating natural rock with lots of light

Compelling exhibits at Science North

As an adult with fully grown children a visit to a science center isn’t the first thing that pops to mind as something to do.

But I give full marks to the brains behind Science North. Exhibits are compelling and hands on for all ages.

Check out the fin whale skeleton at Science North
Check out the fin whale skeleton at Science North
Kids building dams at Science North
Kids building dams

The Blue Coats – a term given to the enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff and volunteers – are to be found wherever there’s an exhibit. Watch out. These people know how to engage you – whether you’re a kid or an adult.

A Bluecoat showing off a Jungle Nymph - Malaysian Leaf insect
A Blue Coat showing off a Jungle Nymph/Malaysian leaf insect

Loads of exhibits and galleries to choose from

Jo and I knew we only had 90 minutes and wanted to cover as much of Science North as we could. There wouldn’t be time to visit the Planetarium or the IMAX Theatre.

But there was time to wander among the hundreds of butterflies at the F. Jean MacLeod Butterfly Gallery and to visit the Nature Exchange where we got up close and personal with a Malaysian leaf insect. If you were a kid this is where you’d come to swap and trade seashells, rocks and other specimens. (I would have loved this place!!)

Frog at Science North in Sudbury
Ribbit
One stinky beaver at Science North in Sudbury
One stinky beaver at Science North in Sudbury
At Science North in Sudbury waiting for the Sliver King Shoemaker to emerge
Waiting for the Sliver King Shoemaker to emerge
Butterfly and pupa at Science North in Sudbury
Butterfly and pupa at Science North in Sudbury

We did make it to the third floor where we were able to get close to some of the wildlife found in the north including a beaver, skunk and porcupine. The Body Zone got a quick pass too as did the cyber zone where we spent a few minutes chuckling away as we read from the teleprompter.

Which one is the smoker's lung?
Which one is the smoker’s lung?
Jo and I were playing radio announcer & trying to read from the teleprompter - results were not good
Jo and I were playing radio announcer & trying to read from the teleprompter – results were not good
Jo on a bed of nails - illustrating pressure as a function of surface area and force
Jo on a bed of nails – illustrating pressure as a function of surface area and force

It’s worth a visit to Science North just to see the wildfire show 

We finished with an excellent show – Wildfires! A Firefighting Adventure in 4D. While it’s not playing now I do encourage you to check out the website ahead of time to see what programming is in effect as it is constantly changing.

It’s quite the experience. Seats move, 3D film techniques make you feel like you’re flying right into the fire and the wind and smoke add to the illusion that you’re right there in the thick of things. It’s highly educational and paints a very different picture that what you see on the nightly news. 

What it looks like to watch the wildfire movie (Photo credit: Science North)
What it looks like to watch the wildfire movie (Photo credit: Science North)

You can eat at Science North

At the end of our tour we headed for one of Sudbury’s best restaurants at the time – Curious Thymes. Now it’s been replaced by The Patio as of June 2019.

I did mention that when I visited I had a most interesting lunch – but it had nothing to do with the food or the view.

Instead I couldn’t take my eyes off the fellow you see in red in the photograph below – aka the sword swallower who will be part of a special exhibition – The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

I heard snippets of the conversation with words like membrane and swallow but what really got my attention was when he starting moving the spoon up his nose. I apologized to Jo profusely for not giving her my undivided attention but when was the last time you saw a spoon go up a nose in a restaurant?

"Tyler with a spoon in his nose"
Tyler with a spoon in his nose (Photo credit: Science North)

The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not

The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not premiered in Sudbury and then spent seven years touring North America. Two of the cities signed up for the tour were Santa Ana and Phoenix. I would certainly be making the effort to go!

My friend Jo and the sword swallower in red in the background
My friend Jo and the sword swallower in red in the background
View from our seat in the restaurant by Lake Ramsey
View from our seat in the restaurant by Lake Ramsey

A terrific spot for families but you don’t need kids to enjoy it

Overall the visit to Science North surprised and delighted. It’s obviously a terrific place for families with kids but don’t let a lack of kids stop you from going. It’s fun and educational and I’m sorry I didn’t have enough time to see everything.

For further information on Science North visit their website.

Further reading on things to do in northern Ontario

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. We go to Science North at least once every year while visiting family in Sudbury and it’s one of our favourites! My kids love the hands-on activities, the butterfly gallery, and especially the beaver and the porcupine.

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