Under the big top at Kitchener museum

Clowning around at 'Circus! Science under the Big Top' at the Waterloo Region Museum. (Handout -...

Clowning around at 'Circus! Science under the Big Top' at the Waterloo Region Museum. (Handout - Waterloo Region Museum)

JIM FOX, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:40 PM ET

Hurry, hurry, step right up, the Greatest Show on Earth is about to begin.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, get your tickets now to learn the secrets never told before about the illusion and reality, magic and science of the circus. Yes, the circus has come to town . . .

Send in the clowns

“Circus! Science under the Big Top” is at the Waterloo Region Museum in Kitchener, Ont. Catch this hands-on exhibit from the Ontario Science Centre before show packs up and leaves town after May 5.

It is said to appeal to “everyone who has wondered what it would be like to run away and join the circus.” Visitors learn how math, physics and anatomy make circus feats possible.

This has been a “very popular exhibit with more than 7,000 people visiting during March Break,” said Sean Jasmins, the museum’s marketing and communications supervisor.

Walk the high wire, an actual steel cable suspended in the air.

“Visitors walking the wire learn that they are bound by the laws of physics, the nature of their bodies and the state of their minds,” said James Jensen, the museum’s curator of exhibits.

While walking the tightrope interactive activity, visitors “discover pretty quickly how their body responds to the sensation of height,” he added.

When trying to juggle, learn how the laws of physics work – or don’t.

Visitors get a behind-the-Big-Top view of the acts that have perplexed, mystified and entertained generations of circus-goers.

On the playbill

There are more than 20 interactive exhibits showing how science is at the heart of the excitement:

- Get strapped into a harness to test your focus and concentration on the high wire. See if you can make it across a cable strung three metres above the ground.

- The balance bar demonstrates how balance and centre of gravity are the keys to walking the tightrope. Experiment with different balancing tools to discover the secrets of rotational mechanics.

- Go ballistic with the human cannonball using pneumatics and a good aim. Shoot projectiles out of a cannon using a hand pump to hit a target. Explore physics and mathematics and have some fun with trajectories.

- Perform feats of strength by trying to bend an iron bar attached to a dynamometer that measures brute force.

- Younger children, along with family and friends, can role-play, dress up, and play make-believe in the creative costume and play area.

- Take to the centre ring and learn to juggle, spin plates and dress up as a favourite circus performer or animal.

- Clown Alley tickles the imagination with facts on the science of giggling and laughter.

- Follow your nose to the food vendor cart to identify many of the smells of the circus and learn the physiological reasons why smells trigger nostalgia.

Need to know

The museum (10 Huron Rd.) hosts the circus show and tells the story of Waterloo Region and is open daily.

It’s at the entrance to Doon Heritage Village, a picturesque living history village that interprets life in Waterloo Region in 1914 (open May 1 to Dec. 23.).

Admission is $10, adults; $8, seniors and students; $5, children, five to 12; no charge to age five; $25, family (two adults and children). waterlooregionmuseum.com.

Knock, knock

The doors are swinging open across Ontario for the annual Ontario Heritage Trust program to tour “historic buildings and interesting venues.”

Things get underway April 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 12 sites and a trail walk in Guelph as well as a program in Prince Edward County.

The focus is on the downtown with 11 of the city’s “finest buildings” open for viewing, said Sonya Poweska, executive director of the Guelph Arts Council.

These include the newly renovated Gummer Building; River Run Centre; Red Brick Cafe; Tovell Building; 10 Carden; Gooderham and Worts Building; Sleeman Centre; and the Canadian Pacific caboose.

There is also St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, the Wells-Marshall Home (100 Queen St.), and the Norfolk Guest House. Details: guelpharts.ca/doorsopenguelph.