From Dream Big to Biomechanics at the Ontario Science Centre

Shot of the Great Wall of China an example of engineering in Dream Big at Ontario Science Centre is one of the most popular things to do March Break in Toronto, photo courtesy Ontario Science Centre
Spectacular shot of the Great Wall of China in Dream Big IMAX film at Ontario Science Centre, photo courtesy Ontario Science Centre

By Diana Condolo

We started our day at the Ontario Science Centre on March 4, 2017 by seeing the film, Dream Big: Engineering Our World, which is a first of its kind for IMAX® and giant screen theatres. This visually-striking film will likely transform how you think about engineering while still offering its fair share of visceral thrills – which is why I love seeing IMAX films at the Ontario Science Centre’s OMNIMAX Theatre. The film broadly looks at the impact engineering has had over centuries – at least 2000 years’ worth, and compresses it to 45 minutes of gorgeous shots from around the world, from the Great Wall of China to little projects closer to home.

Spectacular shot of the Great Wall of China offers a history of engineering at Dream Big at Ontario Science Centre, photo courtesy Ontario Science Centre
Spectacular shot of the Great Wall of China offers a history of engineering lesson plus WOW factor, photo courtesy Ontario Science Centre

Dream Big emphasizes bringing more girls into the sciences (a great idea indeed), but we also get a sense of how some engineers get started in engineering. Menzer Pehlivan grew up loving fashion and style and thought she would eventually work in that field, but when she was 13, she experienced a devastating quake in her homeland of Turkey. That sparked her desire to help prevent future tragedies. She grew up to become a geotechnical engineer who has worked on many projects in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Her life experience had a big impact on her future.

The film covered some engineering feats I knew of, but many I haven’t heard about. I’ve seen a few boat lifts, especially here in Ontario, but I’ve never heard of a rotating one. The Falkirk Wheel in Scotland raises boats by 24 metres, but the Union Canal is still 11 metres higher than the aqueduct, which meets the wheel. Boats must also pass through a pair of locks between the top of the wheel and the Union Canal. Getting to see this in action on a large screen was a treat. Jeff Bridges’s narration lends notes of amazement to the inspirational video.

The film is sure to pique young minds’ interest and encourage research and experimentation.

We then checked out the Biomechanics: The Machine Inside exhibition where we found so many things which fascinated us. This interactive exhibition, which runs daily until May 7, 2017, explores animals and plants as machines built for survival, complete with pumps, claws, springs and wings. I totally anticipated that the spider web would be on display. Their silk is a protein fibre, which they use to make webs to catch animals or use as nests. This silk has exceptional mechanical properties with high tensile strength. Is it stronger than steel? Is it extendible? Other questions asked are, “How does our heart pump blood?” and “How do other animals do it?” “Is it the same?” A giraffe needs to pump blood up to his head via a long neck; how do giraffes do that? You will learn how many other organisms function in order to survive, move and discover. Questions that we never even knew to ask were answered. It was so informative.

We got to explore the ways natural engineering has inspired ingenious human-made inventions. Even though I went with a group of adults and seniors, we had a lot to learn.

Everyone at the exhibit wanted to find out what the temperature of their body was and the temperature variation within the self. Some people have a cold nose, which they sense, and you can see in the photo below as purple coded. Most of us had a white or red forehead. We saw the heat variation within the group by standing all together. How is that for variety! If we found it cool, we could imagine the little ones would, too.

We then found seating just in time for the Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World book launch. The author, Marc Raboy, told us how, just over a century ago, the world went wireless due to Marconi’s invention. The world had relied on cables, but a whole new world opened up and it changed everything. Raboy talked a little about Marconi’s life and about his impact on world events, such as the Titanic. His invention heralded in cell phones many years later. Marconi was at the centre of every major innovation in electronic communication at his time and was courted by scientific, political, and financial interests. Marconi was the first truly global figure in modern communications.

These are great activities at any time, but even better when you have March Break and are wondering what to do. Have fun while learning a few things (or a lot). There’s so much to quench curious minds of all ages during this school break at the Ontario Science Centre. You won’t want to miss out!

March Break 2017 Programs & Exhibitions at the Ontario Science Centre

Check out some of these March Break Programs (March 11 to 19, 2017):

  • Biomechanics: The Machine Inside
  • Loco Motion
  • Dexterity Duel
  • Get a Grip!
  • The Energy Show
  • Canada 150: Discovery Way
  • The Sky Tonight
  • Celestial Storms



  1. I would love to visit the Ontario Science Centre – hopefully, the next time I am in Toronto

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