It’s not often that you witness children jumping out of their seats to dance, learning about DNA, examining dinosaur fossils, and exploring the secrets of Ancient Egypt all in one day. On Monday, October 7, the Royal Ontario Museum was pleased to host the Children’s Miracle Network Program, welcoming 12 champions and their families for an exclusive behind-the-scenes experience at the Museum. Children are chosen as Champions from Children’s Miracle Network children’s hospitals across Canada for their courage and perseverance in the face of severe medical challenges. Each Champion acts as an international ambassador for the millions of other children that have suffered similar afflictions, which have affected their daily lives.
The Children’s Miracle Network tour gave these Champions the chance to travel and experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities across North America. Here at the ROM, we were thrilled to take part and our staff set out to make sure the day would be entertaining, educational, and most importantly – unforgettable. As our special guests arrived, we were greeted with a flurry of smiles and excitement for the events of the day.
The action-packed afternoon began with a private concert by Nikki Yanofsky. The singer performed three songs, dedicating her famous “I Believe” to the inspiring spirit of the Champions. Once the concert finished, the kids were divided into groups to begin their behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum, getting the chance to meet ROM experts and handle real-life artifacts. I was lucky enough to join the Champions on their tour and witness the “oohs and aahs” as scientist Oliver Haddrath explained the mysteries of DNA, Bethany Kempster delivered an exceptional crash course on the most terrifying and awesome creatures to walk the Earth (dinosaurs, of course!), and Gayle Gibson unveiled the meanings of hieroglyphs in our Ancient Egypt gallery.
The DNA Lab Workshop taught the children all about DNA and showed them how to extract DNA from frozen peas, an easy experiment that can be done at home. Before the experiment had even finished, some of the Champions were asking what other fruits and vegetables could be used, eager to try it again.
The Dinosaurs workshop revealed quite a few budding paleontologists in the room – hands were shooting up to answer questions faster than Bethany could ask them!
Gayle Gibson led a wonderful tour of the Ancient Egypt gallery for a captivated audience. The children and their families were enthusiastically asking her to translate hieroglyphs, amazed at the knowledge and talent. While Gayle explained that Sick Kids Hospital and their CAT scan machine played a pivotal role in revealing the mysteries of one of our mummies, I overheard a Champion whisper to her mother, “I want to be just like her when I grow up!”
It was a pleasure to take part in such a special day; the passion and excitement exhibited by the children showed what an amazing place the ROM is for discovery. The knowledge exchange went both ways; while our experts certainly had a lot to offer, the children asked thought-provoking and interesting questions that kept me thinking long after the visit was over!