Website review by Paul Cancellieri, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2012

Exploratorium

Science experiments and activities abound in this comprehensive resource

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 7 reviews
Privacy rating
Not yet rated Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
6–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Math, Science, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Student-friendly content is carefully explained, and the use of multimedia is engaging.

Cons: Much of the material is promotional information about museum exhibits.

Bottom Line: A host of mostly at-home activities are available if kids stick to the Explore tab of online resources.

Videos cover the gamut of science content and come with helpful information like duration, age appropriateness, and curricular alignment. Students can use the site to gather information on a variety of topics, but teachers should assign follow-up activities to help them apply the new information. Some of the activities would make great classroom experiments, especially in non-lab classrooms. Home-school educators, and parents in general, will find the activities to be a great extension of classroom lessons.

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Exploratorium, the website for the San Francisco-based science museum of the same name, includes an educational section with links, activities, and videos covering nearly every aspect of science from biology and geology to physics and space science.

From the Explore tab, users can choose Websites, Activities, Video, or Apps -- a page of Exploratorium's iOS applications that are available for download in the App Store. The Websites page has curated links to high-quality sites with engaging activities. Activities offers a collection of interactive (Flash-based) games and simulations, and has instructions for simple experiments kids can view online or print out. Videos is an online TV channel with videos sorted by topic.

The games and simulations on Exploratorium are well-designed and connect to topics of high interest to tweens and teens, such as the chemistry of candy and electrifying pickles. Students can use the site independently to delve into topics that interest them. Unfortunately, most of the activities aren't interactive; they're largely at-home experiments, but they're also clearly explained and require only simple supplies.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

The interactive games are well-designed, and both the Web-based and printable resources for at-home activities are attractive and full of graphics. Video clips and written passages cover topics of high interest to young people.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Some activities are inquiry-based, requiring a prediction before kids perform experiments. Text passages and videos are aligned to science curricula. Many activities lack feedback, and there’s limited opportunity for collaboration.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?
You get no community or network in which students might interact with each other or experts. Limited help is available, but most activities are simple enough that kids won't need it.

Common Sense reviewer
Paul Cancellieri Classroom teacher

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Brianna G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Norris Middle School
Omaha, United States
Great Activities with eye catching graphics
The Exploratorium website is a great resource for teachers and students. It has many different activities and labs that students can use to help encourage their interest in Science. The web site is well designed and easy to navigate. The website also uses student friendly language to explain the more difficult concepts.
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