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Science North celebrates 40 years

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Northern Ontario's most popular attraction celebrated a special anniversary Wednesday.

Sudbury's Science North marked 40 years with a public event, including a barbecue, live demonstrations and $5 admission.

Discussions around opening a museum in Sudbury began in the 1950s, with the original idea based on mining.

"The idea was, well, maybe we should expand that and create a science centre," said Science North CEO Ashley Larose.

"But the real secret was a science centre where visitors can touch everything. So not a museum, but really a place where people can come and engage with science in a hands-on way. And we've always stayed true to that."

Larose estimates eight million people have visited the centre in the past four decades, and said she wants Science North to be a source of pride for the community.

"We really hope that people feel welcome here, that they feel as though this is a place where they belong and that they're going to learn something and be inspired every different time that they visit," she said.

Sudbury MPP Jamie West recalled volunteering at Science North at 13 years old.

"I got to hang out with all the computers, which were brand new. And I was so excited about it," West said.

Sudbury's Science North marked 40 years Wednesday with a public event, including a barbecue, live demonstrations and $5 admission. (Photo from video)

"I think that's what Science (North) does really well -- you're having fun and you're enjoying yourself and you don't realize."

One of the staples of Science North is its workers, referred to as the ‘Blue Coats.’ More than 5,000 people have worked as Blue Coats in the last 40 years.

Franco Mariotti was one of the first and was also a staff scientist and program developer for 32 years. He described being a Blue Coat as being a teacher.

"As a Blue Coat, you guide a person along a certain topic," Mariotti said.

"You let them reveal the answers themselves, which is much more powerful and as much more lasting."

Fourth floor was the 'favourite'

Sudbury resident Gabby Roy was visiting Science North for the day.

"I remember always coming here almost every single year with school field trips, stuff like that," Roy said.

"We would come ever since second grade all the way to Grade 6. And we would go to the IMAX. We would do our fourth floor. The fourth floor was the favourite one because of all the running stuff and also the gyroscope."

She said she has a lifetime of warm memories at Science North.

"It's definitely a staple of the community," Roy said.

"I know some people from down south, they always come up and they're so excited to come see Science North."

Larose said Science North will continue to expand the community's interest in science.

"It's about getting more people engaged with science, showing them that we are a safe place to come to learn," she said.

"The world is changing at a rapid pace and we're not going to solve the problems of the future without science." 

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