What if we told you that you can still experience the benefits of learning about science and technology from one of the most renowned museums in the country, all without leaving your couch? The Exploratorium’s online learning resources are an awesome way for kids to get excited about science and technology, and they’re completely free!
San Francisco’s Exploratorium is not a typical science museum. It’s an ongoing exploration of science, art and human perception. It was started by Frank Oppenheimer, a professor, high school teacher, cattle rancher and an experimental physicist. Oppenheimer was passionate about making science visible, touchable and accessible to everyone. While teaching at a university, he developed a “library of experiments” that enabled his students to explore scientific phenomena at their own pace, following their own curiosity. He used that model to create the Exploratorium. The museum staff creates, experiments, tests and builds nearly everything themselves. They’re always looking to push boundaries and explore the impossible.
They’ve taken this same approach to science and technology and created an extensive online learning center that contains a huge collection of free videos and teacher-tested (and approved) educational activities that families can do at home with simple household items. Here are a few ways the museum’s Online Learning Toolbox can help kiddos learn and explore at the Exploratorium.
Viruses and Us
Families can learn all about the science of viruses and how they impact people in the “Viruses and Us” online module. The content is especially timely as kids can learn about Covid-19 in an age-appropriate way. Videos include “How Does Soap Inactivate Coronaviruses?” and “How Do We Fight Viruses?” There are also tons of activities families can do at home, including using paper, yarn and cotton balls to show that viruses are simply bundles of protein and nucleic acid, not living organisms.
Satisfy your curiosity for hunger without ever getting full with these fresh and exciting science activities. Kids can test their sense of taste and smell, or make a marshmallow test tube. All the experiments use cheap materials that you likely have at home.
Tinker Around Your House
These tinkering projects encourage kiddos to “think with their hands” using items from around the house. For example, the “Toy Take Apart” experiment challenges kids to figure out what’s inside their toys and make exciting and surprising discoveries.
Take a Virtual Tour of the Museum
Can’t make it to the Exploratorium, then let the museum come to you! You can tour the museum virtually by watching a series of videos hosted by Exploratorium exhibit developers, scientists and educators.
Science and Food
Being at home in the kitchen is a great way to explore science. Families can experiment with water, pressure cooking, turkey brining, popping popcorn, soaking pasta, and lots more. Kids will love discovering the science of food, and getting a taste of chemistry and physics.
The Exploratorium doors are never closed, even when the museum must be. Explore more!
—Leah R. Singer