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Just for Kids

Visitors are always welcome, no matter what age! We have lots of fun and exciting things to look at, all the way from gorgeous mineral crystals to big terrifying dinosaurs!

Our museum is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Exciting things that we offer

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Also check out our Dinosaurs, Ice Age Mammals and other Prehistoric Animals!

Want the chance to get your own minerals, rocks and fossils? Tell your parents about our annual Gem & Mineral show!

The Earth's Layers

Earth split in half to show crust, mantle and inner and outer core

The Earth formed many billion years ago starting out as an accumulation of meteorites. It has been bombarded by meteorites since. It is made up of three layers. They are:

1. Core

  • The core is in the very middle of the Earth
  • It is solid in the centre, and liquid on the outside
  • Very hot! 

2. Mantle 

  • The largest part of the Earth
  • Molten, this is where the lava comes from

3. Crust

  • The outer-most part of the Earth
  • The smallest section
  • Where everything lives
  • Where we get the rocks and minerals that we use daily from

What is a mineral?

 Labradorite, amethyst geode, and an amethyst geode showing purple amethyst crystals

A mineral is made of the same substance all the way through. There are about 3000 known minerals on earth and many are essential for improving the way we live our lives!

What is a rock?

A rock is made up of two or more minerals. Click here to learn more about Rock!

There are three types of rocks. The Rock Cycle can be used to explain how rocks change from one type to another.

cycle

1. Igneous

close up white and black granite

  • ​Forms from liquid rock (lava and magma) 
  • Think of freezing water- as it cools crystals form
  • Other rocks can be turned into igneous rocks if they are heated so much that they melt
  • E.g., Granite

2. Metamorphic

close up of gneiss

  • Forms when an existing rock is re-heated (without fully melting). Involves a lot of heat and pressure
  • Think of a tadpole turning into a frog. it becomes something else on the outside while staying the same on the inside
  • E.g., Gneiss

3. Sedimentary

close of rippled sandstone

  • Forms from pieces of pre-existing rocks 
  • Weathering is the process of breaking down a pre-existing rock, and erosion is the process of moving the pieces of rock from one place to another
  • Think of cut and paste 
  • E.g., Petrified Wood, Ripple Marked Sandstone, Glacial Striae

Our Solar System

The Sun

solWhat do you see when you look up into the night sky? Do you ever see stars? Let’s start at the most important star in your life: the sun.

That’s right; the sun is a star too! It is very hot, and a lot bigger than earth. All of the planets travel around it! We believe that the sun formed about 5 billion years ago.

Why is the sun important?

  • It provides the Earth with energy. If there were no sun there would be no life on earth
  • It keeps us warm
  • It defines seasons
  • Tells us and animals when to sleep

Rocky Planets

mercuryvenusearthmars

The rocky planets, from left to right: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars

Gaseous Planets

jupitarsaturnuranusneptune

The gaseous planets, from left to right: Jupitar, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune

Dwarf Planet

pluto

Pluto is now a Dwarf planet because of its size and location

Water Cycle

What happens to the rain after it hits the ground? Where does it go? Where did it come from? Let’s start at the beginning!

We don’t lose or gain any water. The water that we have we got when the earth was just being formed. This means that the water in your cup has been around for many hundreds of millions of years. It gets recycled through a process called the water cycle.

watercycle

1. Evaporation

Have you ever left a glass of water out on the table for a few days before? If so, did you notice all of the water slowly disappear? This is called evaporation. The liquid water is turning to gas and floating away!

The evaporated water floats up into the sky and combines with small pieces of dust. When the water and the dust collect, they form clouds in the sky.

Transpiration: Lakes, rivers and open cups of water aren’t the only places that the clouds get water from. Water also comes from plants! The plants take water out of the ground through their roots and then they “sweat” through their leaves! This is called transpiration!

2. Condensation

When the water is in the clouds it can’t stay in its gas form for long. It is cold high up in the sky, so the water turns back into liquid. This process is called condensation.

3. Precipitation

Clouds can only hold so much water. When they get really full they release the water as precipitation.

Precipitation can be rain, snow, hail, sleet, or any other kind of water that falls from the sky.

4. Ground Water and Runoff

But where does the water go when it hits the ground? That’s a harder question to answer.

When the rain hits cement, like when it lands on a road or a sidewalk, it stays in one place and collects in a puddle. This is why we have storm drains on the side of the road for the water to go into. They give all of the water a place to go so that our roads don’t get too flooded. These storm drains collect the water and then release it into streams, lakes, rivers and oceans. We have to be very careful about what we put in these drains because the fish in the lakes, rivers and oceans will get sick if we put bad things in them.

When the rain falls on grass, plants or dirt it doesn’t collect. Why? We will call these places “green spaces”. Just think of them as giant sponges, they soak up all the water and slowly let it travel through the ground. In Waterloo we actually get our drinking water from the ground! We have lots of long straws (called wells) which suck up all kinds of water from under the ground.

Sometimes when it rains a lot then the ground cannot soak up all the water in time and it runs off the land and into streams, oceans and lakes. This is called runoff.

When it snows the same things happen, but the water stays in one spot until it melts and then it travels through the water cycle.

5. Accumulation

Water sometimes collects and waits in one place for a really long time. This is called accumulation. Water in oceans and lakes sometimes spends thousands of years in one place until it is evaporated again.

Museum hours

Conestoga Rovers Learning Centre (the “Dino pit”) open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

The museum’s main atrium, mining tunnel, Great Lakes fountain and stunning mineral exhibits open all day Monday to Friday and weekends from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Peter Russell Rock Garden (located outdoors) open to the public year round. Self-guided tours are available.

Admission is free! For more information, see Visit Us.

Scavenger hunts for kids ages 6 to 12+