Stimulating scientific curiosity and excitement in a million minds.
We do this by providing opportunities for hands-on science exploration to about 65,000 people in 17 Northern
California counties each year through mobile and on-site programs that connect science to everyday life. Much
of the support for these programs and the museum exhibits comes from generous donations from individuals,
corporations and foundations.
Think it. Try it. Explore it!
What's Explorit's Program Approach?
Explorit’s goal is to spark a lasting curiosity and interest in science and nature. We believe the most effective way to do this is through interactive, inquiry-based learning. Since Explorit’s beginning, we have developed and refined a distinctive approach to science education.
Explorit developed its style because it fit the philosophy of the founders, because it made Explorit stand out from the crowd, and because it works!
In what way is Explorit different from many - perhaps most - other science centers? Perhaps an excerpt from something that our very first Program Director wrote will help describe Explorit’s adopted style.
"Back in the 1980s, what principles did this science center decide it would use to address both the general concerns about the level of science literacy and the burning need to share the sense of wonder and awe about our world? Perhaps we remembered that, in the 13th Century, Roger Bacon wrote, ‘There are two modes of acquiring knowledge, namely, by reasoning and experience.’ Anyway, as we started to put our enthusiastic program guidelines down on visionary-grade paper we said to ourselves:
Let’s use open-ended hands-on experiences
Let’s re-integrate the sciences into everyday living to reflect the real world
Let’s use real science stuff whenever possible
Let’s use generally familiar materials too
Let’s bring Socrates into the classes
Let’s get out to other communities
Let’s include families
Let’s do science for all ages (just figure out how to reach them all!)
Let’s share our enthusiasm that science IS fun
Let’s leave out our personal agendas."
Explorit’s style, defined, approved and formally adopted as a pre-eminently guiding force for Explorit's programming can be described as the following:
HANDS-ON AND MINDS-ON
Participants in Explorit’s programs engage in the process of actively doing science - children and adults formulate questions, devise ways to test them and make observations using familiar everyday materials as well as the tools of science. Through this unique approach, program participants are at the center of activity and become fully engaged in learning.
INFORMAL AND ACCESSIBLE
Through thoughtful design, we create an atmosphere that is informal, comfortable and appealing to families. Multi-generational interaction is encouraged and various programs create a bridge for shared learning between the general public, amateur enthusiasts and professional scientists. By taking programs “on the road” we make them accessible to diverse audiences.
RELEVANT AND INTERDISCIPLINARY
Program topics are selected to relate to the personal interests and experiences of people of various ages, backgrounds and levels of knowledge. Our interdisciplinary approach brings together all facets of science - physics, chemistry, biology, geology, mathematics, technology,
engineering - and draws upon the unique science resources and natural history of our region.
COMPLEMENTING FORMAL EDUCATION
Explorit’s various programs for school age children are designed to supplement and extend formal science education in schools, support state and national science education standards and provide resources and training for teachers and parents eager to augment children’s science education.
What Impact Do We Want Our Programs to Have?
Through our variety of programs we strive to...
stimulate curiosity in people of all ages
instill confidence in people that they can do and understand science
increase public access to science resources, experts and information
improve attitudes toward science and scientists
spark interest in science careers among youth
enrich people’s lives through the joy of learning
inspire appreciation of the wonders of our world
empower individuals to make informed choices
encourage stewardship of the earth’s resources
What Are Our Core Programs?
We offer a wide range of programs involving science, engineering, math and technology.
Core program activities at Explorit include...
permanent and changing public exhibits
classes based on exhibitions
workshops and classes on various subjects or topics
weekend family programs
presentations by, and conversations with, visiting scientists
children’s vacation classes
Core program activities that travel to other sites and localities include...
family science nights in schools,
science talks by topic experts
Why Science Education and Informal Learning Matter
In our lifetime, we have witnessed an astounding explosion in human scientific knowledge and technological innovation. From the unravelling of the human genome to the rapid development of computers, the advances of the last few decades are having a profound impact on our lives today and will shape the lives of all future generations.
An awareness and understanding of science, as it relates to all aspects of our lives, and the critical thinking skills to interact with an increasingly complex technological society are no longer luxuries. They have become a fundamental need for all members of our community.
Basic science literacy is necessary for individuals and politicians to make informed choices that affect our communities and nation.
Schools and teachers face significant challenges that range from meeting changing standards for education to a lack of equipment and supplies in the classroom. Many teachers, especially in elementary grades, have limited training, knowledge and resources to be able to effectively teach science.
The workforce of today and tomorrow requires significant levels of science knowledge and critical thinking skills. Our nation and region are facing a shortage of workers with skills for technical jobs.
The changing demographics of families and communities mean that safe, family-friendly activities that meet the needs of children and adults before and after school are highly valued. Opportunities for science education enrich people's lives and help individuals reach their human potential.
When science is presented only as a "static" body of expert knowledge, learners of any age are discouraged from developing their own observational and analytical skills. In contrast, providing authentic opportunities to conduct and report on personal science observations and inquiry enhances the ability of participants to develop a plan for gathering data to construct arguments based on evidence – valuable life and career skills
Today, more than ever before, the need for Explorit's science education mission in the community is urgent and important.