The Exploratorium’s Website Background
Online since 1993, the Exploratorium was the first independent museum to build a site on the web. Today, the Exploratorium’s website serves approximately 20 million visitors each year and is one of the most visited museum sites in the world. Included in the site are more than 25,000 web pages—plus podcasts, webcasts, and other multimedia—that explore hundreds of different topics. Among its many honors, the Exploratorium’s website has received Webby Awards (for Best Science and Best Education Site) five times since 1997. In addition, the American Association of Museums has honored the Exploratorium with three MUSE awards: a bronze award for Education/Interpretive Science for the Science of Music, a gold award for Interpretation and Education in Science for the Science of Gardening, and a bronze award for Online Presence for Extremophiles in Kamchatka. The Global Climate Change site was also honored with a Pirelli INTERNETional Award for environmental publishing.
The website has been redesigned several times since it premiered in 1993, most recently in 2010. In its latest iteration, it features a Who Are You? section that provides parents, educators, scientists, artists, and curious people with curated entryways into the site’s content. The Explore section offers a visual way to browse more than 500 hands-on activities, online interactives, videos, and podcasts, categorized by topic. Within the overarching site are more than a hundred smaller websites covering a huge variety of topics—for example, Evidence: How Do We Know What We Know?, Solar Eclipse: Stories from the Path of Totality, and Never Lost: Polynesian Navigation. In addition, the site offers activities developed for afterschool settings, blogs, interactives, a series of facilitators’ guides for professional developers working with teachers, and much more.
The Exploratorium is also a pioneer in webcasting live video and audio on the web and continues to create video and audio programs directly from the museum floor or from satellite feeds in the field, covering eclipses, for example, in places as far-flung as Zambia and China, as well as presenting science as it happens in places such as the South Pole and the Arctic. Webcasts, podcasts, and clips are archived in a section of the site called Exploratorium TV.
The Exploratorium continues to push boundaries in cyberspace, experimenting with visualizations of natural and urban systems; exploring possible Internet2 applications; and experimenting with augmented reality. We are also exploring mobile computing applications and continuing to build a virtual world in Second Life that features interactive exhibits, public programs, and live webcasts.
Like the museum itself, the Exploratorium’s website is a work in progress, continuing to grow and provide our visitors with meaningful, revealing experiences.
A Selection of Exploratorium Web Projects and Resources
The Accidental Scientist - Three Interconnected Sites
www.exploratorium.edu/cooking, www.exploratorium.edu/gardening, www.exploratorium.edu/music
Explore the science behind the things we do every day: cook, garden, and make music.
Never Lost: Polynesian Navigation
Thousands of years ago, ancient Polynesians relied on direct observation to navigate vast expanses of open sea. How did they do it?
Explore our collection of webcasts, podcasts, and clips searchable by type, format, subject, category, and audience.
Explore skateboard science and the science of cycling, baseball, hockey, and surfing.
Global Climate Change
Discover how researchers study climate change and examine the latest scientific data yourself.
Microscope Imaging Station
Zoom in on the microscopic world in a site that complements an ongoing state-of-the-art laboratory facility at the museum.
Evidence: How Do We Know What We Know?
For most of us, science arrives in our lives neatly packaged as fact. How did it get that way?
Extremophiles in Kamchatka
Follow scientists looking for life in the hot springs of the Russian Far East.
Cow’s Eye Dissection
Learn how eyes work and watch a cow’s eye dissection. Then follow step-by-step instructions to do a cow eye dissection yourself.
A website created to complement Geometry Playground, a temporary Exploratorium-developed exhibition at the museum, which engages your hands, brain, and body in playful investigations of this most visible branch of math.
Origins - Six Interconnected Websites
Explore the places, people, tools, and ideas behind the origins of matter, the universe, and life itself through a series of websites that take you from the jungle to the lab and from Antarctica to the Hubble Space Telescope.
The Explainers are the floor staff at the Exploratorium who trigger curiosity and exploration, do demonstrations, and more. Listen in on their latest experiences and musings.
Ice Stories: Dispatches from Polar Scientists
For the International Polar Year, we gave polar scientists cameras and blogging tools and asked them to document their fieldwork. Explore their dispatches and see what it's like to be a research scientist in the Arctic or Antarctica.
Institute for Inquiry: Facilitators’ Guides
The Institute for Inquiry is a professional development center for teachers, administrators, and professional developers interested in exploring the theory and practice of inquiry-based teaching and learning. Here, professional developers who work with teachers can download facilitators’ guides and lead their own workshops.
The Digital Library
Explore our collections of digital assets—from a Polar Media Collection to a Math Explorer database—all of which are free to educators.
The Solar Eclipse: View from Zambia, Turkey, and China
Explore a collection of websites featuring our live eclipse coverage from Turkey, China, and Aruba, plus a variety of related content.
Science Snacks (junior versions of our exhibits) are no longer available only to teachers. These pages make them available to anyone interested in learning about science or helping others learn about science.
Science of Cooking: Candy Section
Learn how to make candy at home, go behind the scenes at a lollipop factory and fudge house, learn about the science of sugar, and play with a Candy-o-matic.
Play, Invent, Explore (PIE)
The PIE (Play, Invent, Explore) program leads workshops to develop and disseminate a range of playful and inventive educational activities that integrate science, art, and digital technologies. See some of their projects and learn more about this program.
Dr. Atomic: Commentary on an Opera
Explore the scientific, historical, and cultural context behind the opera Doctor Atomic (by John Adams and Peter Sellars) about the first atomic bomb test.
Journey to Mars: Mars Viewer
The Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers landed on Mars in 2004 and have sent amazing pictures back to earth. The Mars Viewer allows you to pan and zoom on full-resolution photos of the Martian landscape
Check out the photos taken by a camera dangling from a kite flown from the roof of the Exploratorium.
Ten Cool Sites
We search the web to offer what we think are the coolest sites on a variety of topics. Online visitors can see the most recent top 10 sites on the Web or search the archive by subject.