The Teacher Institute (TI) supports teachers to incorporate the hands-on, inquiry-rich experiences of the Exploratorium into their classrooms. TI’s staff of PhD scientists and veteran science educators focus on increasing teacher content knowledge and enhancing their pedagogical skills for facilitating student investigations. TI programs are designed to provide support for teachers wherever they are on the professional learning continuum.
TI’s Summer Institute is our foundational program that helps teachers develop their skills as facilitators of inquiry-rich, authentic student learning experiences. The Teacher Induction Program supports novice science teachers during the critical first two years in the profession. TI’s Teacher Leadership Program trains experienced science teachers to serve as mentors and coaches for novice teachers. These three intentionally overlapping programs serve an educator community of practice that is supported through weekend workshops, advanced summer institutes, digital resources, and online support. Ongoing research on TI’s work informs the development of programs and contributes to the field’s understanding of teacher learning.
In 2016, the Exploratorium launched an initiative to support teachers across California with NGSS implementation. Learn more about how we support teacher leaders across the state.
TI has developed more than a thousand classroom activities that encourage both teachers and students to build tabletop versions of Exploratorium exhibits and other hands-on investigations of science. These activities are designed to demonstrate unexpected phenomena, spark curiosity, generate questions, and serve as the starting points for deeper classroom explorations.
TI also disseminates its knowledge and expertise by supporting the needs of individual schools and districts locally and throughout the country. TI supports international efforts to improve science education by providing professional development in formal and informal educational settings around the world. Some of TI’s current partnerships include:
Local school districts—Since its inception, TI has worked with hundreds of teachers from partner districts San Francisco Unified School District and Oakland Unified School District. TI supports the science departments in both districts to fulfill their mission of ensuring quality science instruction and engaging learning experiences for K-12 students across the San Francisco Bay Area.
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)—In 2005, the Exploratorium formed a partnership with LIGO and Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge to create a science education center at the LIGO Livingston site. In 2010, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation joined the partnership. TI continues to support LIGO staff and educators through workshops at the Exploratorium and LIGO as they develop a robust professional development program for teachers in Louisiana and Mississippi.
La Fundación para el Centro Nacional de la Ciencia y la Tecnología (CIENTEC)—CIENTEC in Costa Rica has provided math, science, and technology-focused programs to educators, students, scientists, and families since 1988. For more than 15 years, TI has presented workshops for science and math teachers at schools and conferences across Costa Rica to support the integration of hands-on, inquiry-oriented experiences into their classes and to increase opportunities for improving science communication in informal settings.
Science for Monks—Since 2009, TI has provided content and pedagogical support to Science for Monks’s efforts to fulfill the vision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the Tibetan Buddhist community to engage with science. TI‘s staff has contributed to the development and delivery of workshops, conferences, and exhibitions with and for the exiled Tibetan monastic community, immersing them in science learning and exploring the intersections between Buddhism and science. TI’s work with education leaders in this community has nurtured a culture of monastic-driven, hands-on learning experiences in India, Nepal, and Bhutan.