There’s something new at the Bushplane Centre!

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The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre and Science North are collaborating to bring a new visitor experience to Sault Ste. Marie. As a major tourist attraction and tourism driver for the North, Science North is interested in expanding its reach in Northern Ontario. Thanks to an investment by Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor) and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), Northern Nature Trading experiences are being installed in six Northern Ontario attractions.

“Science North is one of Northern Ontario’s major draws, providing interactive, educational experiences for residents and visitors alike, in communities across the North. I’m proud that the NOHFC’s investment in the Northern Nature Trading project is bringing this tourist attraction to Sault Ste. Marie for all to enjoy and discover,” said Michael Gravelle, Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Chair of the NOHFC.

“The Northern Nature Trading program has already proven that it inspires youngsters to pay more attention to the natural world around them. By finding and sharing fossils, acorns, ‘beauty rocks’, coloured leaves, and more, children develop a real world grasp of the wonders of science. This, in turn, leads to a greater academic interest in science and math. Students lives are enriched, and many of them will be exposed to the possibility of a career in science, which benefits us all,” said Sault Ste. Marie Member of Parliament Terry Sheehan.

“Strengthening the North’s tourism sector is part of the government’s economic plan for Ontario,” said David Orazietti, MPP, Sault Ste. Marie. “The Northern Nature Trading experience is an exciting initiative which will enhance the visitor experience at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, strengthen Northern tourism partnerships and engage people, of all ages, in learning about nature.”

“Science North and the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre have enjoyed a longstanding and productive partnership,” said Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Christian Provenazano. “It’s great to see their collaborative relationship continuing with the launch of the Northern Nature Trading project at the centre.”

“The Northern Nature Trading experience is based on a model that currently exists at Dynamic Earth through the Rockhound Lab and at Science North through the Nature Exchange,” said Guy Labine, Science North CEO. “I would like to thank the federal and provincial government for their investment in this exciting initiative and our community partners for working together on this visitor experience. This project allows our science centre to strengthen existing relationships, and build new ones, with important partner attractions across the North. Our end goal is to create a new visitor experience at these attractions that encourages first-time and repeat visitation to each attraction.”

Visitors to the Northern Nature Trading experience in Sault Ste. Marie are encouraged to bring in their own items from nature and trade for other natural items that can be found in the constantly changing collection at the centre, which may feature items such as:

shells – augers, cowry, olive, periwinkle
rocks and polished stones – agate, amethyst, garnet, jasper, sodalite, tiger eye
plant parts – cones, acorns, driftwood, twigs, pressed leaves and flower petals
fossils – amber, ammonite, nautiloids, shark teeth

The goal of each Northern Nature Trading experience is to motivate people of all ages to be inspired with the science in the world around them. Learning as much information as they can about a particular item, and sharing that information with the staff will give visitors the opportunity to rack up points. The points can then be used to add new items to their own collection, or banked for use at a later date.

“The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre is pleased to partner with Science North once again. The Northern Nature Trading Experience will offer our members and visitors an engaging and educational way to interact with the natural environment. Bushplanes play a key role in the natural environment from mapping and inventorying of forests and animal populations to migration tracking. We are currently developing new forest ecology education modules for our school tour program and the Northern Nature Trading Experience will be an excellent addition to those programs. We are also excited to announce a new partnership with the Sault Naturalists who have stepped forward to assist us with the operation of the Northern Nature Trading Experience. Partnerships such as the one we enjoy with Science North are the way the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre can offer educational and affordable attractions such as the Northern Nature Trading Experience in Sault Ste. Marie” said Executive Director of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre Mike Delfre.

Science North currently has more than 50,000 registered Traders. Northern Nature Trading experiences are now also available in North Bay, Kenora, Red Lake and Thunder Bay. Future locations of additional Northern Nature Trading experiences will be announced at a later date.

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