A few of the Ottawa Valley Moms met up at the Canada Science and Technology Museum to spend the morning there with our toddlers and young children. There were four adults (three women, one man) and five children (ages 11 months, 17 months, 20 months, 2 years and 3 years). We arrived around 10AM.
The museum’s admission is $11 per adult and children under 3 years of age are free. This is fairly typical of attractions in and around the city so we were happy that the cost was at least competitive with other venues. The museum has tons of free parking, which is another bonus and keeps costs low. The museum was not crowded (it was a Friday) and there weren’t line ups for any of the interactive features, which was also a huge plus.
When we arrived, we went inside and just through the main doors is the admissions desk. We paid our fee and received a map of the museum. However, when you go to a museum with very busy and curious toddlers, you really just forego the map and let them lead the way. We headed into the exhibits and got to explore through many areas related to science and technology.
The museum’s exhibits are really geared toward children over five, in my opinion, as many of the interactive features went above my daughter’s head (she is the 20 month old) and didn’t keep her attention for very long. The two older kids definitely enjoyed the exhibits and had fun running through the museum checking things out.
One of my favourite places in the museum is the hall of trains. The hall features five or six very large real-life trains that are set up in a permanent display and some of them are set up to allow the public to walk through them. The hall is dark and the trains are lit up with spotlights and interior lights so it really captures the attention of the kids the minute they step into the room. Willow loved pushing the buttons in the train hall – particularly the one that made the steam engine’s wheels turn.
Another area that my daughter loved was the crazy kitchen and play area. Here, there is an area set up for the under-five kids and it features a lopsided kitchen (that Willow did not like at all) and then a play area with a train table, a lego table and some toy bins. Willow loves the train table set up at Chapters so it wasn’t surprising that she gravitated here and didn’t want to leave. My only complaint about this area was that it was poorly maintained and many of the toys were broken and scattered everywhere.
A feature of the museum that is really awesome is the connected area, which features suspended tunnels with fibre optic lights running through the tunnels. There is an entire activity that you can do within the tunnels but it was geared toward older kids so we just walked with the toddlers through the tunnels. From one of the tunnels, you can slide down and land back on the main floor.
All in all, we had a good time at the museum but it is not someplace I will be rushing back to until Willow is a bit older. There were a few disappointments like not being told about the cafe / where to eat, the washroom was small and only had one baby changing station and the exhibits being geared toward primarily older kids but all in all, it was nice to take Willow to someplace different. The other disappointment was that the train ride, which happens in a real train on real train tracks, only happens on Wednesdays and Sundays, which seems like two very random days.
What I would love to see happen in the future is having the people at the front desk explain things a bit better rather than just handing us a paper map. It would be great if they said, “Family washrooms are here and cafe is here.” A little direction on our way in and an improved play area for the under-five year olds would have made this a much more pleasant experience.
Have you been to this museum before? What did you think about it? Leave a comment below!