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Exploratorium's XTech Program Provides Real-World Science Education for Underserved Youth

For Immediate Release:
May 01, 2008

Media Available
Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367

Exploratorium's XTech Program Provides Real-World Science Education for Underserved Youth

"It's like school, but more fun," says Donny. "You learn about what people really do in the world." Catering to youth from underserved communities, XTech keeps its middle and high school students on track and thinking about the future. This program is designed to help inspire some of these students to become part of the next generation of scientists, engineers, and others who work to shape the world we live in.
Nearing completion of its inaugural year, XTech, a program of the Exploratorium's Educational Outreach department, in collaboration with San Francisco community programs AIM High and First Graduate, is a place where youth in San Francisco and Oakland are given an opportunity to experience the real world of science and technology first-hand. The program, which began in June 2007 and currently educates about 76 students ages 12 to 14, is run by Pablo de la Cruz and Vivian Altmann of Exploratorium Educational Outreach, and funded by the National Science Foundation.

The program meets in classrooms located at the heart of the Exploratorium's exhibit space, and draws on the museum's emphasis on scientific discovery to fuel its curriculum. Students participate in a combination of digital and hands-on activities, including even role-playing e-commerce, or building a table lamp from scratch. XTech gives students all the tools and equipment they need to build their projects, whether it is a laptop or a soldering iron. And the variety of projects presented keeps kids interested and gives them an introduction to the wide range of applications for scientific knowledge.

The goal of XTech is that it will "help steer the students in the direction of working in the fields of science, technology and engineering, or just graduating college – or just doing something positive with their lives," says Program Director Vivian Altmann. The program offers summer institutes and also meets during the year when the kids are on school breaks. "The alternative is that they might be at home, or hanging out on the streets," says Project Manager Pablo de la Cruz, who has worked with the Exploratorium since he began as a young explainer at the Exploratorium; he is passionate about his work with the students.

The program is taught mostly by current or former "Explainers." Explainers are typically high school or college students, only some of whom were on their way toward working in the fields of science and technology before arriving at the Exploratorium. Several XTech program instructors are former students in programs like AIM High or First Graduate themselves, and have chosen to give back to the next generation of young learners. This makes them not just educators, but also mentors and role models.

Many students in the program come from first-generation immigrant families. And unlike most programs, where families are expected to pay tuition for their children to participate, XTech students are given a stipend. They are also required to fulfill a certain number of hours in the program over a two-year period. This keeps them accountable, and it keeps them coming back.


Hours of Operation & New Evening Hours
Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm;  every Thursday evening adults only (ages 18 and up) 6pm-10pm.

$29 for adults, with lower rates for SF Bay Area residents, youth, seniors, students, teachers and the disabled. Tickets available at the door and advance tickets available online at www.exploratorium.edu/visit/tickets.

Getting Here
The Exploratorium is easily accessible by public transit. Convenient parking is available nearby. For more information, visit www.exploratorium.edu/visit/location-directions

About the Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is the global leader in informal learning, igniting curiosity and inspiring creativity in people of all ages. The world-renowned science museum creates original, interactive exhibits, on display at more than 1,000 science centers, museums and public spaces around the world. Dedicated to education reform in and out of the classroom, the Exploratorium is a premier professional development center for educators and a creator of award-winning educational resources. Since 1969, the Exploratorium has influenced generations of entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, teachers, students, children, museum professionals and everyday doers, reaching nearly 180 million people annually from around the globe. On April 17, 2013, the Exploratorium opened at Pier 15 in the heart of San Francisco's Embarcadero, where it will celebrate a new era of experiences that encourage critical thinking and awaken wonder for generations to come. For more information, visit www.exploratorium.edu/visit.

Pier 15
San Francisco
California 94111
(415) 528-4444 telephone

Contact Us:
Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367