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2017 Advent Calendar of Fascinating Websites – Day 6 – Exploratorium

Time for a little armchair exploration

If you could choose anywhere in the world to visit, where would it be? My daughter already knows that one day she wants to visit Japan – in fact she has found the hotel she wants to stay in online and pretty much planned what she wants to do – however it may be a few years before we can make her dream come true, unless we get a really good run of sales on the website soon!

On my bucket list is San Francisco, specifically the Exploratorium in San Francisco. My kids are a bit too old now to benefit from the amazing hands-on exhibitions they run there, but given a little more time they will be able to go to the After Dark sessions for ages 18+. At these sessions, drink in hand, you get the chance to play on over 650 interactive exhibits without feeling as though you are going to be shown up by the knowledge of the children around you; you can also attend lectures, great music, speciality films, and one-of-a-kind activities.

One day I will make it there. However, in the meantime, they have amazing resources on their websites and this is our fascinating website of the day.

The Exploratorium https://www.exploratorium.edu/

Exploratorium, San Francisco

So, what exactly is the Exploratorium?  It’s so much more than a museum; an interactive experience dedicated to the exploration of science, art and human perception, it is the “founding father” of modern interactive museums and experiences like the Big Bang Fair. 

The Exploratorium began in 1969 as the brainchild of Frank Oppenheimer (brother to Robert J. Oppenheimer, ‘father’ of the atomic bomb). A physicist in his own right, Frank Oppenheimer was banned from undertaking scientific research during the McCarthy era of the 1950s. He eventually became a science teacher and it was his “library of experiments” designed to allow his students to explore science at their own pace that led to the idea of interactive exhibits, revolutionising museums and creating discovery centres in the process.

Online, the Exploratorium has over 35,000 pages on their websites. If you are stuck for ideas of what to do to entertain the kids over the Christmas holidays once the novelty of their toys has waned – check out some of these links:

Videos:  https://www.exploratorium.edu/video/subjects (The most popular video at time of writing is the cow’s eye dissection! https://www.exploratorium.edu/video/cows-eye-dissection)

Cheap and fun projects in Science Snacks: https://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks 

Activities to explore: https://www.exploratorium.edu/explore/activities  

The Tinkering Studio: https://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/

PIE – Play, Invent, Explore and its Ideas Library: http://www.exploratorium.edu/pie/


Ferrous Sand at the Exploratorium, San FranciscoFerrous Sand at the Exploratorium

Images from Wikimedia Creative Commons 4.0