Review: Downsview Discover Center

What: Downsview Park is a former Air Force base that was decommissioned in 1995.  The base has been converted into a park that combines a number of land uses including an urban farming, indoor and outdoor play fields, storm water management, walking paths and natural areas.  There are also a number of former Air Force buildings rented to third party activities.

The Discover Center is the lower floor of a converted administration building, with two classrooms, washrooms and a cloak room.   The classrooms contain a large touch table and a number of nature related activities which the Guides were encouraged by the program facilitator to explore as they arrived and at lunch.  There is also a large aviation themed playground across the parking lot.

The Community Field Trips are 90 minutes in length and you have a choice of a half day program including one activity or a full day program including 2 activities and a lunch break.  They have a wide variety of activities to choose from some of which are limited by time of year and some would suit some age groups better then others. We selected Wonderful World of Trees and Compass Challenge.

In Wonderful World of Trees, the girls were taught tricks for identifying trees in the winter.  Then we went outside to one of the walking trails where the girls were split into small groups.  Each group was provided with a clip board, work sheet and tree guide and they were allowed to wonder though the paths at their own rate finding trees marked with numbers and trying to identify them.  Our Guides did great with most groups successfully identify most of the trees they found.

In Compass Challenge the girls were taught the basics of taking bearings with a compass and then played an outdoor game where they had to use their compass to solve codes.

With both programs we were really impressed both with the teaching methods used by the facilitator and at how absorbed our Guides were in the activities.

When: Our program was in April 2019.

Cost:  The Community Program was $10 per girl for a full day (2 activities) or $7 per girls for a half day (1 activity).

Booking: Booking was very straight forward and was conducted though an online form and follow up e-mails.

For more information see:

Note: The road to get to the Discover Center is a little bit hard to find but all our parents reported no problem finding the place with the assistance of a GPS unit.  Also note that the area around the Discovery Center can be a bit windy.


Earth Play

Earth Day (April 22) is right around the corner and this years area of focus is Earth Play, a great topic for Guiders.

Outdoor play is a child’s most natural way of learning about themselves, their community, their environment

Earth Day Canada has a great resource page regarding the importance of child led outdoor play for kids.

Build Your Best Day

The Canadian 24 Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth, launched in June 2016, are guidelines that recommend the amount and intensity of physical activity, sleep, and limits to sedentary time for children and youth aged 5 to 17 within a 24-hour period.

A healthy 24 hours includes


Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity

An accumulation of at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity involving a variety of aerobic activities. Vigorous physical activities, and muscle and bone strengthening activities should each be incorporated at least 3 days per week;


Light physical activity

Several hours of a variety of structured and unstructured light physical activities;


Uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night for those aged 5–13 years and 8 to 10 hours per night for those aged 14–17 years, with consistent bed and wake-up times;


Sedentary behaviour

No more than 2 hours per day of recreational screen time; Limited sitting for extended periods.


The Build Your Best Day is a fun tool from Participation to introduce girls to these guidelines and discuss how to fit more activity into their day.

You can use an interactive online tool to explore these options at Build Your Best Day

Or you can print out handouts to do it off line at Resources for Educators.

Help Name 2007 OR10

I posted in February a little about How Astronomical Objects Get their Name.  I found another interesting project that would lend itself to this discussion.  The Astronomers who discovered 2007 OR10 are gathering public feedback for the name they should suggest to the Minor Planet Center (MPC) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

2007 OR10 is a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) with an elliptical orbit of between 33 au and 101 au. IIt is likely a mixture of ice and rock and has one of the reddest surfaces ever found in the Kuiper belt.  It is approximately 1250 km in diameter.  Which is smaller than Pluto and Eris and some of the other KBOs, but that size estimate earns 2007 OR10 a spot on the list of the top 10 largest KBOs.  It even has a small satellite object (moon).


They’ve narrowed it down to three names all of which meet the criteria for naming Minor Planets.  They tried to select deities who were linked to the colour red and also where there was a theme of inside turning outside or with water ice/snow.

Gonggong” is a Chinese water god with red hair and a serpent-like tail. He is known for creating chaos, causing flooding, and tilting the Earth.

Holle” is a European winter goddess of fertility, rebirth, and women. Holle makes snow by shaking out her bed. She is a patroness of household crafts especially spinning. She is linked to the Yuletide (winter solstice) season associated with mistletoe and holly, evergreen plants bearing red berries.

Vili” is part of the Æsir, Vili is a Nordic diety. Vili, together with his brothers Odin and Vé, defeated frost giant Ymir and used Ymir’s body to create the universe. Ymir’s flesh and bones were forged into the Earth, with Ymir’s blood becoming the rivers and oceans.

Click here to vote on your favorite.  The voting will be open until May 10.

International S’mores

To incorporate s’mores into an international theme, switch up the cookies.  I’ve used chocolate covered digestive biscuits for years for s’mores when I go family camping, they are easier to transport, less likely the chocolate will end up a gooey mess before campfire and I like the taste better.  Might be my British ancestry coming out.

For example:

  • Scotland: shortbread or oatcakes
  • Dutch: speculaas or stroopwafels
  • British: Digestive biscuits

I’m sure there are many other cookies from different places that would be just as good.  Why not experiment.

This idea came from Christina Scucina’s blog.

At the Fair

The past two weeks my Guides have been finishing up their Design Space badge.  Most of the effort has focused on the Mini-Midway Makers activity, which was selected by the girls working on their Lady BP award as a meeting they wanted to run.  The girls families saved up recycled materials for a week to bring in.  Then the girls divided up the duties of running the meeting.  This included a discussion about who had the loudest voice to make announcements etc.  Due to some time constraints the girls made their Midway games one week and tested them at the next meeting.

The second meeting happened to be a Bring a Parent meeting so the parents helped out testing the games.  Many of the parents commented at how impressed they were with what their girls had made out of the pile of recyclables the parents had helped collect the week before.

We followed testing the midway games by designing and making fidget spinners with a kit we’d bought from a fundraiser run by a travel unit.  I was a little worried about this as the fidget spinner fad has definitely faded but the girls really enjoyed the activity.  And out of the 27 spinners made, not one looked like the others.  There were some really innovative designs tried out which was great to see. It was also fun to see the girls pooling ideas on how to ensure their fidget spinners were symmetrical.