Toronto - Marc Garneau, Canada’s first astronaut in space, unveiled today the newly refurbished CA Planetarium at the Ontario Science Centre. Toronto’s only public planetarium now has state-of-the art multimedia technology thanks in part to a five-year contribution from enterprise software company CA Canada.

The new CA Planetarium has a cutting-edge combination of projector technologies, state-of-the-art 3D digital software and imagery based on real-time data that will allow audiences to feel as though they are flying through the universe. The planetarium show provides visitors of all ages with a spectacular view of thousands of objects in space, such as stars and galaxies beyond the Milky Way.

“We are grateful for CA Canada’s generous donation to help re-open Toronto’s only public planetarium,” said Lesley Lewis, CEO, Ontario Science Centre. “Prior to this restoration, our planetarium relied on aged technology that presented constrained views of space. Now, we can offer Canadians an impressive view of our solar system and inspire visitors to see, understand and think about the world in a new way.”

National survey: hands-on experiences prompt student interest in science and technology

A survey conducted for CA Canada by The Strategic Counsel released today indicates that nine in 10 Canadian university students say that trips to science centres and museums increased their interest in science and technology.

At a time when many Canadian educators are concerned about students' declining interest in science and technology, the survey reveals that students' interest in these subjects increases with hands-on, interactive experiences.

Among the findings:

  • 94 per cent of those surveyed said that trips to science centres and museums increase their interest in science and technology.
  • 90 per cent said high school math, science and technology should include more hands-on learning.
  • More than half (53 per cent) of students who are not studying science or technology said they would be more likely to pursue university studies in these fields if they had been able to do better in math, science or technology in high school.

The survey of 482 Canadian university students also revealed that the top three reasons for not pursuing science or technology as a career choice in post-secondary education are that these fields of study are seen as "too complex," "too boring" and provide "uninteresting" work.

“Students are clearly saying that high school science and technology classes should have more hands-on learning to increase their interest in these subjects, making it more important than ever to bring children on school visits to science centres, planetariums and museums so they can see the excitement of science and technology in action,” said Garneau. “The CA Planetarium will allow kids to learn about astronomy and space in a practical, fun and engaging way and help foster interest in learning more about science and technology at a young age.”

The refurbishment of the Ontario Science Centre’s Planetarium was supported through CA’s Together Community Grants, a program that supports organizations that focus on promoting education and technology.

“Over the past three decades, CA has supported many organizations that focus on education and technology, and has helped these organizations promote learning and make science interesting,” said Jimmy Fulton, vice-president and country manager for CA Canada. “Our commitment will allow the Ontario Science Centre to continue to pursue its goal of making science accessible and engaging to visitors of all ages, and increase the likelihood that young Canadians will choose a career in science and technology.”

The CA Planetarium is part of the Ontario Science Centre’s newly renovated Space Hall. Regular daily shows will be available to the public beginning at the end of May.

About the survey

The online survey was conducted for CA Canada by The Strategic Counsel between April 7 and April 14, 2008, with 482 university students across Canada taking part. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 4.3%, 19 times out of 20. Additional survey information is available upon request.

Planetarium Schedule

Regular CA Planetarium programs will begin May 31. For Astronomy Week, May 5-10, special daily previews will be presented.