The Exploratorium at 50

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1969 was a significant year. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, the hippies came of age, the Beatles performed for the very last time and the Internet was invented. That same year physicist Dr. Frank Oppenheimer started the Exploratorium in the cavernous Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. A product of the post-sputnik science education fervor and the open education movement, this boundary-pushing institution pioneered a phenomena-based, learner-centered approach to public science education and served to fuel the explosion of non-collections-based science centers worldwide, including Butte’s Science Mine. Today, the Exploratorium continues to create inquiry-based experiences that transform learning worldwide from its new home on the San Francisco Embarcadero. But its vision is the same as when Frank opened the doors: A world where people think for themselves and can confidently ask questions, question answers, and understand the world around them.

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Rob Semper is Associate Executive Director of the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Director of its Public Experience Lab and Di-rector for its Institute for Research and Learning. Since joining the Exploratorium in 1977, he has led numerous grants and projects for exhibit development, teacher enhancement and media development including serving as Co-PI on the NSF funded Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network. Dr. Semper’s Ph.D. in solid state physics is from Johns Hopkins University.