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Spring Break at the Sherbrooke Science and Nature Museum

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larger_img_5058.jpg--March 7, 2011.

Last week was spring break in Quebec. As one would expect, parents were scrambling all week to find activities for their kids. One place that was popular for an outing was Sherbrooke's Museum of Science and Nature.

According to museum director Marie-Claude Bibeau, the museum was busy most days, particularly on days that the weather was bad. "When it's sunny out," Bibeau said, "people like to be outside, at the ski hills or doing other outdoor activities. But this place gets busy when the weather is not so nice."

As always, the Museum of Science and Nature had a number of exhibitions to occupy the kids. The main permanent exhibition, called "The Cycle of the Seasons," is an educational, interactive exploration of the natural environment of southern Quebec and the animals that inhabit it. Here kids learn about the habits -- and habitats -- of moose, wolves, deer and other species.

A temporary exhibition, called "Let's Go! Animals in Motion," allows children to discover how animals around us propel themselves. Different animals, kids learn, move in different ways. Some jump, while others crawl; some climb; others fly or swim. This fun, interactive exhibition, complete with a zip-line, tunnel, bear cave and more, was up just long enough for the kids on spring break to enjoy. It will now be replaced by "A River Runs Through It," scheduled to open on March 16.

larger_img_5047.jpgA favourite at the museum with kids of all ages is the new permanent multimedia, multisensory show, "Terra Mutantès." This show, a kind of sound and light show complete with sensory effects (remember "Sensaround"?), is a 20-minute documentary on the birth of the Appalachian mountain range. Here, visitors sit in a darkened room with their hands on a large, irregularly shaped table. Projection screens fill the walls on all asides with images of an evolving planet, while the table transforms into a lava field, a fish-filled river, a sandy beach... Visitors actually feel the shifting of the continents and the glaciers melting. The earth shakes, temperatures fluctuate, the wind blows, it even snows.

Finally, as a special spring break activity, animators at the museum were on hand last week with some exotic live insects. Those kids and adults who were brave enough to do so could hold a scorpion or caress a tarantula.