Children love the freedom they enjoy while on summer holidays. But too much free time often leads to the dreaded boredom blues. To ensure this doesn't happen, Downhome has included a creative list of educational outings that will teach them something new while having a blast:
Johnson Geo Centre, St. John's
Both kids and adults will be awe-struck by the three-storey-high solar system display they first encounter in the centre. They can learn more about the night sky in the stellarium, a three-dimensional exhibit of more than 250 of the stars closest to us. Getting back to earth, a short video explains earthquakes, waterfalls, volcanoes and other natural wonders of the world. Closer to home, you'll learn all about the geology of Newfoundland and Labrador from the centre's exhibits and models. Gain an understanding of natural resources, how they've affected the human race through history and how they affect each of us in meaningful ways in our daily lives. Overall, this is a very kid-friendly centre with "hands on" exhibits.
Newfoundland Science Centre, St. John's
Here it's all about interaction. Kids can become astronauts with the outer space simulations, or unleash their inner archaeologist by digging for fossils in the sand. You'll all get the creepy crawlys viewing the live insect exhibits - behind glass, of course! Call ahead on weekends for the schedule for guided visits to the centre's three-dimensional Starlab Exhibit. Here, you are led through outer space, taken on an imaginary excursion to the North Pole, and taught about the night sky as you search for the constellations. The on-site gift store - the "Little Shop of Science" - is is where you'll find science-related toys and games that will ensure the fun and learning continue long after your visit.
Salmonid Interpretation Centre, Grand Falls-Windsor
Here kids learn all about the life of the Atlantic salmon - a fish that's been an important resource for Newfoundland and Labrador for centuries. Informative exhibits trace the life cycle and illustrate the habitat of the Atlantic salmon. You can get up close and personal with the fish, too, by watching them swim in the underwater viewing tanks, a popular attraction of the site. You'll also have an opportunity to see the "salmon ladder," which allows salmon to bypass the rushing surge of the Grand Falls as they make their way toward the Exploits Valley River, where spawning takes place. Guided tours of the facility are available.
Newfoundland Insectarium, Reidville
At this state-of-the-art facility, visitors learn about some of the smallest organisms on the planet. From the exotic and beautiful to the down-right creepy, the only insectarium in Atlantic Canada has it all. Exhibits feature insects from all corners of the earth, with special emphasis on local species. Both live and mounted displays fill the three floors of the facility and include an observation beehive with more than 20,000 honeybees. Visitors can even handle some of the insects, including walking sticks and tropical leaf insects. The butterfly pavilion is a beautiful garden home of hundreds of tropical butterflies. Outside the insectarium, walking trails allow you to continue learning about nature and the tiny organisms that survive in it.
Menihek Interpretive Trails, Happy Valley-Goose Bay
The Menihek Nordic Trails are designed for cross-country skiing in winter. But in the summer, a five-kilometre-long hiking trail offers the perfect place for a leisurely educational stroll with the kids. Twenty-eight large interpretive panels explain facts about the local plants, insects and wildlife - some of which you might even catch a glimpse of as you make your way along the beautifully developed trail. You'll also encounter varying terrain, a waterfall and foliage such as deciduous trees, old growth forests and marshes.