Spark, Calgary’s Science Centre, opened its doors in the fall of 2011 and immediately caused a massive controversy over its, well, massive pricing. It’s too bad–the new pricing crosses the line from a “no brainer, of course we’re getting an annual family membership–what better way for our kids to get immersed in science… and have an indoor venue to explore during our long, long winter” to the “um… well, we’ll think about it and budget for it” category.
Still, as a homeschooling family in Calgary, this is a terrific resource. We were long-time members and heavy users of the old science centre, and I expect we will eventually become members of the new, pricier one. In the meantime, one of the most economical ways to get a taste of the Science Centre is to take advantage of its Homeschool Days. There are usually three a year: September, March and May, and you get in at lower rates–the same rates organized school groups pay ($16 per “learner” right now, and the adult chaperone gets in free). You can pre-register for programmes, or just explore the space at your own pace and grab a few of the “no registration” (or extra payment) required.
ARE THE “REGISTERED” PROGRAMMES WORTH IT? Mixed reviews. I’ve heard other homeschoolers rave about them, and others be underwhelmed. We’ve had consistently bad luck with either topic fit or instructor style the first couple of times we tried them, and the kids won’t even consider signing up for them now. But, they always look forward to homeschool days and all of the presentations in the public spaces.
Photo above (Telus Spark Panorama) by S Richards Photography