Designing Teaching and Learning Tools
Designing teaching and learning tools is something we do every day at the Exploratorium when we create our own exhibits in our on-site workshop. But the tools we create for teaching and learning go far beyond our exhibits.
Our teaching tools—including digital resources as well as publications—support educators around the world, in both formal and informal learning settings, who want to provide learners with opportunities to engage in first-hand investigations of scientific materials, phenomena, and ideas. They are essential tools for changing teaching practices and for providing learning opportunities.
A community of thousands of educators regularly use the teaching and learning tools we create. Many of these resources are listed below.
• Websites: Smaller sites within our main website are full of rich science content for educators and learners. Geometry Playground for example, has hands-on activities that spark students’ interest in geometry. Some of the activities are in Spanish as well as English and are designed for classroom use but can also be used by families or other groups. Faultline is another microsite suitable for teachers. It focuses on earthquakes, covers all the basics of seismic science, and includes hands-on activities.
• Educator Learning Commons: This library and information hub supports the educational, professional development, and research needs of Exploratorium Teacher Institute alumni by providing access to a variety of electronic, multimedia, and print-based learning resources and technology.
• Publications: Over decades, we’ve developed a rich body of work related to teaching and learning. There are publications for educators to use in the classroom including Human Body Explorations; reports and papers, such as Art as a Way of Knowing; many papers documenting the results of formative evaluation of learning at exhibits, and more.
• Digital Library: The collections in our digital library include images, educational activities in PDF and HTML formats, QuickTime movies, streaming media, and audio files related to interactive exhibits and scientific phenomena. Educators can search, select, and download digital files for individual, noncommercial educational use.
: This interactive iPad book focuses on the surprising side of color through illusions, articles, videos, and activities—and can be used as a teaching tool in or out of the classroom. In keeping with our commitment to hands-on learning, some of the activities work with simple items such as a CD, a drop of water, or a piece of paper.
• Snacks: “Snacks” are miniature versions of some of the most popular exhibits at the Exploratorium. Here, educators can explore a variety of them and learn how to build them for their classrooms using common, inexpensive, easily available materials.
• Science Teaching Tips Podcasts: We have nearly 70 science-teaching podcasts. They offer pedagogy tips, science history, hands-on activities, and other ideas for science classrooms.
• The Explore section of our website: In this section of our website there are hundreds of hands-on activities, online exhibits, articles, videos, and more to explore; many of them are appropriate to use in and out of the classroom.