Although science has an incredible diversity of fields, with scientists performing their research for various purposes and vastly different goals, it essentially all boils down to the same action: exploration. Whether it’s exploring the stars and the universe beyond our world, exploring new techniques for technologies to continue improving our ways of life, or exploring the fundamentals of what it means for us to be alive, there will always be new things, new ideas, and new places to explore. This is the message that the San Francisco Exploratorium conveys (http://www.exploratorium.edu/).
The Exploratorium has exhibits that feature exploration at every scale, from the microscopic composition of human hair to outer space endeavors and back to the culture and history of our population here on Earth. There are 600 exhibits both indoors and out, and they attract people of all ages. Some exhibits are geared exclusively toward kids who are discovering the immense array of opportunities found in science for the first time. Kids can explore the lollipop factory and discover the science of their favorite sugary treats, find out how unreliable their eyes really are in the optical illusion wall, or can imagine that they’re sailors from thousands of years ago, learning how to navigate without GPS systems, maps, clocks, or even compasses in the “Never Lost: Polynesian Navigation” exhibit. On the other side of the spectrum, the Exploratorium offers the “After Dark” program, a monthly 18+ only event. A different topic is showcased at each event and includes a cash bar, film screenings, live performances, and new technologies.
Many of the Exploratorium’s unique opportunities are due in part to its collaborations with various science institutions. Over the past year, the Exploratorium presented more than twenty live webcasts about the Mars rover Curiosity through its partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Through its collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Exploratorium invited teams of NOAA scientists to be in residence at the museum to create exhibits, develop and participate in public programs, and train students to serve as museum exhibit Explainers.
The Exploratorium functions both as a fun science center for the public and as an educational center. It offers many professional development programs for secondary school math and science teachers, such as workshops about the theory and practice of inquiry-based teaching and learning, as well as a digital library and a learning area for use as classroom resources. Through the Exploratorium’s Lifelong Learning Program, there are also classes, day camps, and workshops available for audiences of all ages who harbor an interest in science.
The diversity of opportunities provided by the San Francisco Exploratorium perfectly mirrors the diversity of opportunities provided by the field of science in general. Whether you’re 8, 18, or 80, it’s definitely a place where you can find your own niche of exciting learning experiences!
Images courtesy of www.exploratorium.edu
The San Francisco Exploratorium is located at:
Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green
San Francisco, CA 94111