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Captivating site on everyday (and advanced) science topics.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn something about astronomy, the human body, the brain, and other scientific principles through short interactives as well as beautifully presented examples and follow-along experiments. Cow eye dissections, sidewalk crack patterns, the connection between smell and taste -- even the most science-adverse visitors' curiosity will be piqued. Site navigation makes it evident that Exploratorium isn't intended to be a complete experience; the goal is for people to visit. A bit more interactivity and immersion for users would enhance this already terrific library of experiments.

Positive messages

The site's emphasis on learning about science encourages kids to explore the world around them.


No punches are being thrown on the site, but some sections, like a step-by-step photo essay of a sheep brain dissection, may be too graphic for younger users.

Not applicable

The site doesn't actively monitor the message boards, and posts appear instantly; however, users don't seem to be abusing the trust policy -- when we looked, boards like the Science of Cooking message board were free of harsh swear words.


An online store section of the site sells science kits, books, and other items. Proceeds help support the Exploratorium museum.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the Exploratorium website is a science website from the San Francisco museum of the same name. Kids don't need to register to use the site; the videos, interactive exercises and other features are free. Users are encouraged to follow the museum on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites to post comments and interact with other fans -- but can't comment on each and every section of the site. Many of the videos, for example, on the site don't include comment functionality.

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What's it about?

A clear goal of this Bay Area museum's website is to reel people in so they come in person. Teaser messaging for exhibits and plugs for upcoming activities run throughout. Parents and kids can find short interactives and eye-catching downloadable PDFs that walk kids through experiments and activities that are at the museum. In one activity, kids follow step-by-step instructions about how to rig up a homemade marble machine.

Is it any good?


The EXPLORATORIUM website -- the online component of the San Francisco-based museum of science, art and human perception -- claims to feature more than 25,000 pages of content with videos, science-related projects, exhibit highlights, and more. You can access all the info by choosing your general interest group -- options include teens, parents, scientists, and geeks -- or by selecting a subject matter (such as culture or the human body). Whichever method kids use to move around the site, its offerings will undoubtedly help increase their appreciation of science.

Kids can learn the physics of skateboarding, guess which embryo is human, create a photogram, and more. The site's sizeable content is actually almost its biggest drawback: There are so many subject-centered microsites that kids may find themselves constantly clicking away from the central website. However, given all the engrossing info, it's unlikely that having to hit the back button a few times will really stop -- or even slow down -- kids' quest for science info.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what science is, and why it's fun to learn about. Many of the topics on the site may not seem like science at first. What's the science angle in the skateboarding section? How does the culture section of the site involve science?


  • If you register for a message board on the site, other users may be able to see your email address, AIM name, Skype ID, and more. Why wouldn't you want other message board users to know any of that information -- even if they don't know your real name? Talk about the importance of protecting your privacy online.

  • The comments you post on a message board on this site appear instantly -- no one checks the content to make sure it's OK to post. What kind of personal information shouldn't you say because it might put you in a risky situation with someone you don't know?  


Website details

Subjects:Math: algebra, geometry, multiplication
Language & Reading: following directions, reading comprehension
Science: astronomy, biology, physics
Skills:Self-Direction: academic development, initiative, motivation
Thinking & Reasoning: hypothesis-testing, logic, solving puzzles
Pricing structure:Free

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