Edutainment at San Francisco’s Exploratorium
The newly upgraded Exploratorium in San Francisco is the very epitome of edutainment, offering a hands-on experience that will keep the entire family fascinated with the marvels of science. Three times larger than the previous premises, the new home of the Exploratorium is located on San Francisco's easily accessible Pier 15 on the Embarcadero. In the public space around the museum, visitors will find a giant sundial, a wind sculpture and wooden pylons set in the water to track the tides in the bay. Stepping into the museum, visitors are assured of hours of learning and entertainment with never a dull moment.
Around 400 of the 600 exhibits filling the Exploratorium were moved from the old museum, with many being upgraded. With all scientific disciplines represented, the installations offer insight into weather, electricity, light, astronomy, sociology and sensory perception, using multimedia and all sorts of objects.
Senior scientist Ron Hipschman has been with the Exploratorium for more than four decades and notes that the facility is really a laboratory where activities are created. Working along with the Bay Area do-it-yourself festival, the Maker Faire, the Exploratorium encourages the spirit of creation, with the facilities used to create and test installations located at the center of the museum where the public can watch students and staff at work. Visitors are also given the opportunity to design and build their own creations with the help of museum staff.
Sensors on the outside of the building and in the water continually collect scientific data for analysis, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the bay which gives an indication of ocean acidification. This information is shared with schools and institutes, as well as being available on the Exploratorium's website. With 6,000 solar panels on the roof to generate power, and using seawater from the bay to control the temperature in the building, the Exploratorium aims to be a net zero building – generating the energy it uses.