5 AUGUST 2018
Our energy-themed enrichment trip to Toronto packed in seven days of discovery and dynamism, featuring Ontario Science Centre, Niagara Falls, the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Island Park and the Canadian National Tower.
Immersing ourselves in energy
Our first day in Toronto was a civic holiday, so we took the day to relax, kick back and explore. In the morning, we visited the Ontario Science Centre, one of Canada’s most famous science and technology attractions, offering over 500 interactive experiences and exhibits. The Science Centre also featured a giant domed OMNIMAX Theatre with a state-of-the-art sound system, perfect for immersing ourselves in Oceans: Our Blue Planet. It was also a perfect dive into our enrichment trip theme of energy, and the power of water — which we’d explore the next day.
I enjoyed going to the Ontario Science Centre, especially the psychology exhibit on body language.
Discovering the incredible power of water
Day three, and we had three stops planned on our trip to the Niagara region, where we were awed by the power of the Niagara River and learned a bit about Canada’s early history. First, we stopped to see the Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Generating Station. When this facility was constructed in 1922, it was the largest hydroelectric generating station in the world. Even today, over a hundred years after it went into operation, the station still generates 1,997 megawatts of renewable power a year — not bad for an old timer. Our second stop was the legendary Niagara Falls, where we experienced the sheer natural force of the Niagara River. We learnt that Niagara Falls is actually a group of three waterfalls (Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls) spanning the border between Ontario in Canada and New York state in the United States, with more than 5.9 million cubic feet of water travelling over the crest of the falls every minute.
My favourite part of the trip allowed me to personally encounter the incredible beauty and power of the Niagara Falls and witness firsthand how people utilise its energy in the Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Station.
Stop three of the day took us to Fort George National Historic Site, overlooking the Niagara River. Built in 1796, it’s one of Canada’s most significant historical attractions, featuring eight meticulously rebuilt period buildings from the War of 1812 with regular military reenactments by actors in full period dress, showing how soldiers loaded and fired muskets. It was an explosive performance that made quite the impression on our group — and a fitting end to our high-energy day.
From energy engineering to baseball physics
Day four and we headed downtown to continue our adventure. The first stop was the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), one of the largest, most-visited museums in North America. Founded in 1914, ROM is home to a world-class collection of 13 million artworks, cultural artefacts and natural history specimens, featured in 40 gallery and exhibition spaces. In the afternoon, we toured the University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. It’s Canada’s top ranked engineering school and is among the top 20 university rankings in the world, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for Engineering 2022.
I discovered the university lifestyle on our visit to the University of Toronto and received valuable information about college applications, which I found particularly useful.
Our third stop was to see a practical example of one of the coolest examples of sustainable engineering: the Enwave deep lake water cooling system. It’s the largest renewable lake source cooling system of its kind in North America, and pumps cold water from pipes deep within Lake Ontario to provide air-conditioning for over 100 office buildings. No trip to Toronto would be complete without seeing a Blue Jays baseball game at the Rogers Centre. The stadium holds almost 50,000 spectators, and on game day it was a truly unique experience as we watched the Toronto Blue Jays play the Boston Red Sox from some of the best seats in the stadium — truly a night to remember.
How does Toronto keep its lights on?
Day five and we were still all about the energy. Electricity can be produced from any number of sources, and we got to see how garbage, uranium and solar are converted into usable electrical power. In the morning we visited the Durham York Energy Centre waste management facility, which generates electricity by burning garbage — the same technology that’s been proposed for Grand Cayman.
Our visit provided an amazing insight into Cayman's future waste management system.
Later that morning, we went to Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, one of the largest nuclear facilities in Canada, which provides 20 percent of Ontario’s electricity needs — enough to power a city of two million people. In the afternoon, we took a trip out to the country to visit Canada’s largest educational centre of excellence, the Kortright Centre for Conservation. Set in beautiful woodlands, the centre is a natural base for some of the most leading-edge sustainable education programmes and events in Canada.
I was given the opportunity to go on a jaw-dropping enrichment trip to dive into the world of environmental engineering and learn about the mind-blowing scientists who dedicate their lives to improve our world through recycling and waste disposal.
Another day that grew in magnitude
Day six and we went large. Everything about this day was huge, from a vast recycling depot to the roller coasters. The first stop of the day was the Peel Integrated Waste Management Facility, which handles 35 tonnes of recycled material every hour. Next up was the Keele Valley Landfill — once the largest landfill in Canada and the third largest in North America. It was redeveloped into a beautiful public park and golf course, showing how landfills can have a future life as spaces people can use and enjoy. Our final, biggest and most fun stop of the day was Canada’s Wonderland, ranked third in the world by its number of roller coasters - 16 in total. Did we ride all of them? You bet we did.
Finding new perspectives on Toronto
Day seven — our last day of activities — was all about the views. As we returned to Toronto, we looked into the city’s pre-colonial past and imagined its high-tech future. Canada’s indigenous history dates back thousands of years, and on the Redwing Culture and Nature Discovery Walk, we were introduced to ancient conservation lessons, taking a guided tour through the Humber River Valley that Toronto’s first inhabitants established as a trade route and called home. In the afternoon, we fast-forwarded to visit the all-new Sidewalk Lab, an Alphabet (aka Google) company that’s using technology to envision a city of the future. Later we decompressed on a ferry out to Toronto Island Park, a unique urban oasis with beautiful views of the city skyline and a glimpse into its lively island community. On our last stop of the day, we had dinner at the 553-metre high Canadian National Tower. A visit to this iconic Toronto landmark was a fitting way to cap off our enrichment trip, making our last view of Toronto the best in town.
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