Carlmont forms a symbiotic relationship with the Exploratorium

Pavel Turovski

“Probably Chelsea,” an exhibit at the Exploratorium, explores how genetic information is expressed in humans.

The Exploratorium strives to engage high school students through visits and its High School Explainer Program.

Recently, the Exploratorium celebrated its 50th anniversary on Founders Day. Founders Day constitutes one of the five days each year the museum provides discounted admission. Instead of the usual fixed-rate, visitors are encouraged to pay what they wish.

The Exploratorium is located in San Francisco and split across multiple galleries on a recently renovated pier. It allows the public to interact with the world they live in through carefully crafted scientific, artistic, and statistical exhibits. Children are amazed by this atypical approach and are commonly found crowding the areas around exhibits. All of the museum’s exhibits are produced in house and focus on one of the three fields of study. 

One of the museum’s main goals is bringing science education to the mainstream. The museum employs high school students from the surrounding area as part of the High School Explainer Program. These students learn to explain the basic principles behind the exhibits to visitors.

“To have somebody around who knows the exhibits well … and help the visitors when they want help seemed to be a very fine thing from the beginning,” said museum founder Frank Oppenheimer. “Explainers don’t have to be previously trained in the sciences; they just have to like the museum.”

Explainers oversee exhibits and answer any questions visitors may have. Explainers also conduct in-depth demonstrations such as dissections.

“Everybody knows that when you start to teach, you begin to learn at a higher level,” Oppenheimer said.

Sophomores from Carlmont’s Biotechnology Institute, a science-oriented learning pathway, visit the Exploratorium as a group each school year. 

“We like the Exploratorium for the sophomores because it shows them the different areas of science,” said Carlmont BTI Co-Director Jaime Abdilla. 

The museum’s approach seems to leave a positive impression on most visitors.

“I found the field trip to be very informative,” said sophomore Gavin McMichael, a member of BTI. “There’s this cool exhibit with plants that look just like normal plants. You can reach in with gloves, and when you touch them, they respond.”

Visitors return year after year to experience the wonders that the Exploratorium exhibits hold. Even as the museum evolves, the displays remain timeless, captivating visitors.

“The Exploratorium opens up that conversation about what the different fields in science are, and what you can do with them,” Abdilla said.