The science of joy

JoyLab at the Discovery Centre. Photo: Submitted

Distancing, direction signs, and sanitizing make it possible to forget the pandemic, but Discovery Centre marketing director Jennifer Punch says families will find much that’s familiar in the March break experience.

“This week coming up is the anniversary of our closure last year, and it’s been a big year for us,” says Punch. “We’ve managed to pivot, like many others have, to offering online programming. We’ve been able to accomplish a lot this year.”

The Discovery Centre will operate under the now-familiar pandemic precautions. “Due to the restrictions, we will be about one-third of our normal capacity, but there is still lots of room to move around and families to stay in their bubbles,” says Punch.

One of the featured exhibits at the centre is JoyLab, a visiting exhibition from the Saskatchewan Science Centre. “It’s a series of experiences that let families experience joy together and create some Instagrammable moments,” Punch says.

Author and designer Ingrid Fetell Lee’s Joyful inspired the exhibit. In 2009, Fetell Lee coined the concept “The Aesthetics of Joy,” which includes energy, abundance, freedom, harmony, play, surprise, transcendence, magic, celebration, and renewal.

JoyLab at the Discover Centre. Photo: Submitted

JoyLab teaches visitors about neurological concepts and how to alter one’s surroundings to feel more joy. Punch says stage demonstrations and activities will return to  the centre this year, but not in large groups. “We will be spreading them out and having mini experiences throughout the centre,” she says. “They will be smaller in nature, but there will be more.”

Other hands-on experiences including an airplane simulator and an opportunity to dig in a construction zone. The new Ocean Action Zone explores how people pollute the oceans with everyday waste.

The centre has been open Thursday to Sunday, but is extending hours from March 11 to 21, opening daily, 9 a.m. until noon, and then again 1 to 4 p.m. The break is for cleaning and sanitizing, Punch explains.

Due to the smaller-than-usual capacity, advance tickets are the best way to ensure you can visit when you want. “We won’t have to ask you all those questions at the door, your payment is already over with, and we will already have your contact information should we need it in the future,” she says.

March Break tickets are available three days in advance. Masks are mandatory for people over age 2.

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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