Since the museum opened in 1969, teachers from the San Francisco Bay Area have brought their classes on field trips to the Exploratorium. When we began putting this book together, we decided to do just the opposite: We wanted to take the exhibits to the kids.
For three years, nearly one hundred teachers worked with staff members to create scaled-down versions of Exploratorium exhibits. The results were dozens of exciting "Snacks" --- miniature science exhibits that teachers could make using common, inexpensive, easily available materials. By using Snacks in their classrooms, teachers can climb out of the textbooks and join their students in discovering science for themselves.
Snacks are divided into easy-to-follow sections that include instructions, advice, and helpful hints.
Each Snack begins with a photograph of itself, a short introduction and a list of the materials needed. Other sections give assembly instructions, contain descriptions of how to use the completed exhibits, and explain the science behind them. Most of the Snacks can be completed by one person. If a partner or adult help is needed, this is indicated. A section called "etc." offers interesting bits of additional scientific and historic information.
Until now, Science Snacks were available only to teachers. These pages now make Science Snacks available to anyone interested in learning about science or helping others learn about science. Try it for yourself! You might be delighted to find how well hands-on discovery works.
Follow instructions closely! The experiments in The Exploratorium Snacks Online were designed with safety and success in mind. But even the simplest activity or the most common materials can be harmful when mishandled or misused. Use common sense whenever you're exploring or experimenting.
The original collection of 107 Science Snacks was published in a single volume called the Exploratorium Science Snackbook and then republished in four separate volumes as the Science Snackbook Series.
Although the book was written for local high school science teachers, it wasn't long before we began to realize that Snacks were really getting around. Within a week of publication, for instance, we received a message from a teacher in the Australian Outback who needed help finding materials.
We heard from elementary school teachers and university professors. Art teachers were using Snacks, as were shop teachers and math teachers. Sixth-graders at one school were building their own miniature science museum. At another school, an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher found that building Snacks helped her students interact more. The ones who understood science best were helping those more adept at building things, and all were getting better at communicating with each other.
It wasn't just teachers who found Snacks useful: Children were bringing Snacks home to their families. Scouts were using Snacks to help get science merit badges; Snacks were making appearances at science fairs, birthday parties, and impromptu "magic" shows.