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Overnight sensation

Science Centre sleepover puts focus on astronomy

What’s better than a day at the Science Centre? A night at the Science Centre.

Twice a year the Ontario Science Centre invites the general public to spend the night. “Usually our sleepovers are for scouts, guides, school groups etc., but this year we have one on Feb. 14,” says Christine Crosby, media relations officer for the Ontario Science Centre. “So it’s a special treat for the public.”

Starting at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, up to 750 kids of all ages, and their sleeping bags, will trickle into the building at 770 Don Mills Rd. By 5:30 p.m., this year’s “Cosmic Quest” is set to begin.

“Because 2009 is the international year of astronomy, they’ll be learning about the sky, including constellations, the solar system and how rockets fly,” says Angie Aucoin, acting manager of recreational and family experiences.

They’ll be flying high as they travel through the solar system, sling-shot a space probe and check out the moon from a rocket chair ... no mind-altering substances necessary. This party comes with the good clean fun of the Imax film Roving Mars and a one-hour hands-on science workshop.

Once everyone has carved out a corner to crash (actually sleeping areas are assigned by staff), it’s time to get ready to rock. “The DJ/PJ party is new for this year and the girls are just loving it,” says Aucoin. “I’m not sure about the adults. We get them really hyped before bedtime but it’s nice because they burn off that steam and then (it’s) time for bed.”

It’s lights out at midnight, and a warm breakfast is served at 9 a.m.

While the average age of participants is between five and 16, “a parent has to come along,” says Aucoin. “It’s fun for the adults as well though ... the Science Centre engages all ages.” There has to be a ratio of at least one adult per eight children.

Other than the obligatory adult (19+), kids should come equipped with sleeping bag, pillow and the standard slumber party necessities. But also remember to dress in layers, says Aucoin. “Depending on where they are, it can be cool or warm. We tell them PJs instead of a night-shirt and maybe something to cuddle with.”

All this fun comes at a cost of $54 per person, which also gets you admission to the Science Centre the following day. Pre-registration is required but don’t worry, if you missed out this time, you can still attend the May 2 event.

 
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