Exploratorium Extends the Power of Hands-on Learning from Saudi Arabia to Arkansas
The Exploratorium, the global leader in informal learning, today launched Exploratorium Global Studios, an entrepreneurial endeavor that will vastly expand the museum’s impact, advancing its mission to change the way the world learns. It will share creative capital, expertise, programs and exhibits in innovative ways tailored to the specific needs of a project, organization or government. Exploratorium Global Studios has already begun working on a wide array of collaborations in the U.S. and around the world through partnerships with foreign governments, universities, cultural institutions, businesses, and municipalities.
“We're pushing the boundaries for what it means to be a 21st century learning laboratory,” said Dennis M. Bartels, Executive Director of the Exploratorium. “Our aim is to inspire a world of innovators, and people who are equal parts critical and creative thinkers. We believe that hands-on, participatory learning experiences are the most powerful vehicle to do this. Exploratorium Global Studios bridges borders, cultures and socio-economic divides to help change the way the world learns.”
One area of significant current activity for Exploratorium Global Studios is the Middle East, where several countries are making substantial long-term investments in education to build human capacity and transition to more knowledge-based economies. The Exploratorium’s unique ability to inspire critical thinking and adapt decades of informal science learning for diverse cultures positions it at the vanguard of educational reform in this region.
This past summer, the Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio™ was on display at the Saudi Aramco Cultural Program, an annual science festival in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. An Exploratorium Tinkering team worked with sixteen young Saudi facilitators to create a specialized learning environment where thousands of festival participants were able to build, hack, invent, and "think with their hands.” This groundbreaking engagement was transformative for the Saudi facilitators, many of whom worked on mixed gender teams and experienced inquiry-based learning for the first time. The profound impact of this learning experience led one young Saudi woman to remark, “I have never done anything like this before. I have been discovering places in my mind that I never knew existed.”
Exploratorium Global Studios is the brainchild of Silva Raker, an accomplished business development executive and trained scientist who has successfully grown vibrant, mission-based companies in the specialty retail and travel industries. Joining Ms. Raker in leading this endeavor is Adam Tobin, former head of Exploratorium exhibit development as well as an award-winning inventor and founder of two educational toy companies. Together they and the Global Studios team are charged with growing earned income while extending the impact of the Exploratorium through its museum consultancy, exhibition services, licensing, retail stores, restaurant concession, event rentals, sponsorships, and more.
“Most people think of the Exploratorium as a fantastic science museum–which we are—but we’re also an enormously productive research and development lab, having received more than $100,000,000 in grant funding since our founding in 1969,” said Ms. Raker. “Exploratorium Global Studios shares the fruits of this ongoing R&D – knowledge, programs, exhibitions, exceptionally talented staff – with our clients and partners around the world in the service of their goals. We're not just exporting; we’re working closely with our partners to develop real capacity and sustainability.”
Exploratorium Global Studios includes:
• Master planning and consulting services
• Educational and museum partnerships
• Professional development for educators and museum staff
• Program development and implementation
• Exhibition design
• Exhibit fabrication