Ciencia Pública: Skateboarding
This portable exhibition was designed to travel throughout the Bay Area and squeeze neatly into the length of two parking spaces, converting small urban spaces into a dynamic public learning lab. It is known as a portable parklet (a publicly accessible open space that serves as an extension of the sidewalk), it holds several interactive exhibits on the science of skateboarding. It is built to survive the weather, stand up to unsupervised use, and maximize accessibility via universal design principles and bilingual labels.
Inspired by the growing presence of parklets in cities across the world, the portable parklet gives us excellent opportunities to expand our mission. The parklet can travel to underserved communities and reach individuals who can’t normally visit the Exploratorium. A parklet can be cocreated with community groups and designed to include location-specific content.
In this case, we worked with an after-school skateboard club run by the Jamestown Community Center in San Francisco’s Mission district. We worked with Latino middle-school students—kids at an age of budding cognitive and developmental abilities, when an introduction to science can spark a lifelong interest. The student skaters gave us advice on the exhibits and labels and tested prototypes. They worked with a neighborhood mural group, Precita Eyes, to plan and paint the mural that is the parklet’s defining feature.