Field Trip Explainers

Reflections on life at Exploratorium

Tag: off the floor

Language, Gender, Directions and Explainer Training

by Ann Bartkowski

Lianna and I wanted to share this article with you that was published in the NY Times over the summer. It’s so relevant! (to what we have been talking about today and yesterday in trainings)

There is a section about nouns with genders in different languages that came up during our philosophy discussion yesterday about gender. There is also a part about people who use directions (such as north, south, east, west) instead of saying “left hand, right leg, in front of me, behind you”, etc. Robert and I were talking about this part of the article during our North-Finding activities outside today.

NY Times Article on Language

Happy Reading! If you’re super interested, it’s part of a real book by Guy Deutscher called “Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages” that was published this summer. Book Club, perhaps?


More Smashing

by Ann Bartkowski

Since I was home sick from work last week, I spent an inordinate amount of time watching TV (aka The Discovery Channel).  I got super excited every time they played this commercial for their new show, Time Warp, which reminds me of Smashbat.  My favorite part is when the green balloon explodes on the dude’s face.  What do you think? I mean, it’s no Gladiators, but I want to watch it.

Kid Nation

by tribekat


I am so embarrassed to admit that I just watched the first three episodes of Kid Nation and I really enjoyed it. It is just as exploitative as I thought it would be, but it is also surprisingly endearing and even a little inspiring. Anyone else watch this show?

Aside from being entertaining, the show reminded me that every kid is already an expert in their own way, and that diversity is absolutely necessary to build a functioning community. It also reminded me that I can learn a lot from hanging around kids. I wonder what the kids on the floor will teach me tomorrow…

Pineapple Princess

by akikoakiko

 Just back from a week in Maui with Sam, and one of highlights of my trip was most DEFINITELY eating all the fresh pineapple I was allowed to get my hands on.  After a glitch in scheduling, Sam and I got a private, free tour of the Maui Gold Pineapple fields.  It was like being in the middle of a fresh, 6000 acre, all you can eat buffet. 

People, pineapple is now officially my favorite fruit. 

Important things you need to know about PINEAPPLE

1) Pineapple is actually member of the cactus family — it has shallow roots and needs very little water.  Which is surprising, because of all that juicy golden goodness that I’m constantly shoving my face into.

2) One pineapple plant can yield pineapples for pretty much forever, but the fruit gets progressively smaller . . . but SWEETER!  Unfourtunately, it’s not economical for the pineapple farms to sell these cute baby pineapples.  They were so cute, I ate two in a row.

3) Pineapples grow on a spiky plant — kind of like a bush.  Not on a tree, not under the ground.  And the first time the plant yields fruit, it’s one pineapple per plant.  But it’s the biggest one the plant will grow – and they are HUGEO.  I made Sam carry two of these in a backpack on the plane home. 

4) The best part of the pineapple is the base – that’s where you snap off the fruit from the plant, so all the sugars start travelling from there to the rest of the fruit.  So now you know how to divide your pineapple if you have to share. 

5)  Pineapple does NOT ripen the more you wait.  Once it’s picked, it’s done, peoples.  Just eat it.   The skin may change color, but that’s not ripe pineapple, that’s OLD pineapple. 

Now go forth and eat a pineapple!  Or two! 

** a picture me with A Pineapple Flower.  I actually wanted to find a picture with me with the actual fruit, but there were none to be found.  I guess I was just too busy eating. **

Rats on the brain

by ryan

At tapas with the explainers at Cha Cha Cha in the Mission after some good old experimental theater, Luigi and I naturally started talking about lab rats. After watching Ratatouille, it seems like a common thing to ask questions of whether rats have human qualities or whether is it disgusting to see a swarm of rodents flow across the floor of the kitchen of a fancy French restaurant.

Remy the Rat

Apparently Luigi worked at UCLA with a girl who named all the rats that they were conducting scientific experiments on. While we explainers pride ourselves on being kind to our four legged friends, we both agreed that that took it a bit too far. But, then last week I saw this article in the NY Times about the personalities of rats and how they are similar to people in a lot of ways. They’re even ticklish which might make one reconsider preconceptions about the animals although the whole study seems kinda gross and makes me wonder why someone has the urge to focus on such a topic.

Maker Faire 2007: photos, photos, photos!

by Luigi Anzivino

(For a more leisurely stroll through photos, check out my flickr set.)

As Ryan said, Maker Faire was extraordinary. The ExplOratorium booth was a mixture of high and low tech wonders, simple ideas spun out into marvelous directions. Charles’s fog pool was eerie and magical; the concept if fairly simple: fog is swirled and a green laser visualizes the swirls and turbulence within. However, the exhibit was, I understand, technically challenging to make.

On the other end of the spectrum, there was a homemade battery prayer wheel, which was technically primitive, but because of that had an equally mesmerizing effect.

My favorite moments, however, where the kissing antics at “Ohm is where the art is”, and the reactions from people to the homemade hairdryer Bernoulli ball levitator.

Also, Adam’s mechanical clock had crowds waiting for the big moment at 12:59.

I can’t wait for next year, I hope to be part of it again!

Magical Light Painting Adventures

by ryan

Luigi Pac Man

Whew! What a crazy weekend. A bunch of us had a great time working at the Maker Faire on Saturday and Sunday. I’m hoping Ouigi will post a slideshow of some of his awesome pictures of the whole event (a la Scrubbing Water Clean). But until he gets the chance, let me share an activity at the ExplOratorium booth that the explainers spent a fair amount of time facilitating. Those folks at PIE had another briliant idea with the Light Painting. It is a totally simple concept that produces amazing results. Basically they set up a darkroom, with a digital camera on one end and a frame on the other end. We set the camera to take long exposure photographs so that when people moved light sources around, the camera would record the entire journey. If they wanted to be in the picture as well, we could flash on a regular light for a second or two and capture their pose.

Ryan Fireball

Luigi and I were both inspired by our precious childhood memories of playing video games. While Luigi fulfilled his lifelong dream of entering into the Pac-Man maze, I channeled Ryu from Streetfighter to unleash a powerful Hadoken. You can check out all the photos from both days on Gallery. Make sure to find Sarah scolding herself and the one of Eric where he looks like someone from Nightwatch. They even have the directions in PDF if anyone wants to try this a home (sounds like a good summer camp activity). A great time at the Maker Faire was had by all. Can’t wait til next year!

If only there could be a Paul D. in every classroom…

by ryan

I’m currently trying to finish my seminar papers for the semester.
Only a week and a half more of school for the spring and then I can concentrate full time on my part time job!!!
An article I read in the paper on Sunday morning reminded me of many conversations that we’ve had in our trainings, discussing the nature of science education and how to fix some of the problems in the educational system.
We’re lucky to have such an awesome classroom -the exploratOrium- to teach in every day.
This article Laptops in Schools talked about some of the challenges and issues that arise even with cutting edge technology. And downloading illeagal music…sweet sweet illegal music.

Are you psyched?!

by Luigi Anzivino

Tomorrow is free day at the ExploratOrium. We’re expecting about 2,500 schoolkids hopped up on spring hormones and ready to unleash craziness. And it’s going to rain!

Guys, to quote our favorite concussed explainer: “This is what we train for”. If you’re feeling stressed out, here are some soothing images.

See you tomorrow bright and early. I’ll bring my camera to document the fray. Over and out.

Hallelujah! I Believe! Hallelujah!

by ryan

Don’t Worry.
My concussion didn’t actually result in a grand religious conversion. But I was reading an article in the newspaper this morning and thought I’d put a link in the blog (Thank Goodness, the jumbled letters in my damaged brain unscrambled at about 6:00am on Sunday, just in time to get my weekly news fix).

Noah’s Ark Museum

While The Skirball Children’s Center has a wildly different purpose than the ExploratOrium, I thought some of the comments about art, the balance between a space for kids and adults, and the general mission of the museum were pretty interesting.
Maybe we can visit on a road trip/field trip weekend adventure in LA.

I promise not to fall off any poles!