Exploratorium Teacher Institute

High School Science Summer Institute


Paul Doherty, Eric Muller, Exploratorium Teacher Institute



1. July 7 Introduction

Welcome, Floor tour, introduction to the shop.

High School 2014 Summer Institute Curriculum Google Drive

The classic Summer Institute materials http://www.exo.net/~pauld/summer_institute/summer_institute_intro.html

Afternoon Elective classes

Summer Institute web resources http://www.exploratorium.edu/ti/alumni/ ,

This site links to all the alumni materials.

login name teacher
password    institute

The Exploratorium website is: http://www.exploratorium.edu

The Exploratorium website was the first website made by a science museum. Webmaster Ron Hipschman created it in 1993, it was the 600th or so website made.
Today it has  over 40,000 html pages and adds 5 new pages a day.


Extra added explorations:

String crossing Stretch a string outward from your nose, what do you see?

Master Eye Find out if you have a dominant eye.

Head Harp Wrap a string aroud your head, pull the two ends together and pull the string tight, pluck it, what do you hear?


Martian Snow


July 8 Perception

Disagreeing About Color,When two people look at the same thing do they see the same color?

Find the Highest Note, a simply impossible challenge

Gray Step What do you see?

Lateral inhibition definition from Wikipedia.

Cafe Wall

Bright Black

Marilyn Einstein Change your distance from this image and the person portrayed changes.

The Moon Illusion Why does the moon near the horizon look larger than it does when overhead? The two moons are exactly the same size.

Size Constancy The size an object appears does not depend  entirely on the size of its image on your retina.

Going Further

Project LITE Boston University, a great collection of interactive illusions.

What is Science? Perception PD

Ambiguous Cube What do you see?

Afternoon Loudness

Decibel Meters How to use a decibel meter.

Decibel meters and distance.

Ringing Aluminum Rods

Decibel meters are available for Apple and android phones:

Android: Sound Meter  free

Apple: Decibel Meter Pro  $0.99

July 9 Perception

Laser Speckle Say what YOU see!

Master Eye Find your dominant eye.

Moon Illusion The full moon appears larger at moonrise and moonset, and yet it is measured to be the same size as when overhead.

Size Constancy Look at and measure the size of a person as they double their distance from 4 paces away to 8 paces away. Your perception of size of a person depends on your perception of the distance to the person.

Angular Size  The mathemics of radians.

Depth Spinner

Eye Disection

Eye Powerpoint

Afternoon mirror images

Finding Images in a mirror point at an object from two different places, to find its location in space.

Right vs Left in a mirror Why do mirrors reverse right and left but not up and down? What they really do is reverse in and out.

July 10 RAFT

Magnetism  Includes the images from the powerpoint.

June 29 Eye


July 11 Light and Color

A short version of the color clas can be found here Color

Project a spectrum Use a diffraction grating and an overhead projector.

Holographic diffraction gratings can be purchased inexpensively from Edmund Scientific

A project Star Spectrometer can be found at Wards Scientific

Colored Shadows Explorations

Snack Colored Shadows The new colored compact fluorescents lamps are great for the colored shadows activity.

Color Algebra

CIE color chromaticity

Bird in a Cage snack

Benham's Disk Snack

A set of great links about seeing

Mix and Match

part 2

What is light? click here for the entire lesson

Disappearing Glass Rods snack

Bridge Light snack

an entire lesson on light interference

an entire lesson on polarization

light energy vs color

July 14 Sound


July 15 Biology tools


July 16 Size and Scale


July 17 Physics tools


July 18 Assessment

Downhill Racer objects rolling down a low angle inclined plane accelerate slowly.

Downhill Racer math root

Blinky Light, use blinking lights and timelapse images to quanify motion.

Harmonic phonecord

July 21 Technology

Applications for Science Teachers

Afternoon Spectra

Spectra Explorations, an introduction the the spectra of common light sources.

Project a spectrum, Use a diffraction grating and an overhead projector to project a spectrum

Project a rainbow with a CD, reflect sunlight into a shadowed white screen and observe a spectrum.

View a spectrum in a CD Look at a minimag light reflected in a compact disk to see a spectrum.

Make a spectrometer Use a cardboard tube and a compact disk to make a spectrometer

Peel CD Peel the aluminizing off a compact disk to make a transmission diffraction grating

Energy Level Model Use the positions of the center of mass of a stool to model atomic energy levels

The Bohr Atom Use a gravity well to model the energy levels in a bohr atom.

July 22 Size and Scale

Biology Explorations with Charlie and Katie

Astronomy explortions with Linda


Circuits Use meters to make simple measurements of electric circuits: voltge, current, and resstance.

Flying tinsel  Use electrostatics to fly a piece of tinsel.

Tape Electroscope Use scotch tape to figue out the sign of the net electric charge on an object.



Explorations from 2011

Day 1 questions and suggestions.

How to build a tornado.

Icy Bodies 

Mobius activities:

A mathematician confided
That a Möbius band is one-sided,
And you'll get quite a laugh,
If you cut one in half,
For it stays in one piece when divided.

Mobius introductory article  From the magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction by Paul Doherty and Pat Murphy

Mobius  An introduction to the mobius strip and the observation that counting is difficult even when you are deciding whether a count is 1 or 0.

Mobius Dissection, examine what results when you cut a mobius strip along its length.

Mobius Decay, Find the conservation laws when a mobius strip decays by fissioning.

Mobius collisions, Find the conservation laws for mobius strips when they collide.


2. June 27 What is Science, Perception and Measurement

AM What is Science?


Cups of Mystery and Pieces of the Puzzle. LS


PM What is Measurement

Metric Standards LS

Measurement without tools Katie Ward

Make a Microcaliper Don Rathjen

Make a Microbalance LS

Life Size Scaling LS

Sizing-Up the Nano World LS

Day 2 questions and suggestions

Geller Huchra mapping

Margaret Geller in Wikipedia includes the first Geller Huchra map.



3. June 28 Observing the World

AM The Eye

The Eye PD

Eye Explorations LS

Eye Image detail LS

Rods and Cones LS

Peripheral Vision LS

Cow eye dissection Explainers

PM Microscopes

Imaging station

Scales from KW

Microscope Lab  KW

Cell Microlab Prelab KW

Cell Microlab  KW

iPhone Microscope Julie Yu

Day 3 comments and suggestions

Conic sections

quick examples of conics


4. June 29 Light and Color

Color and  Spectra PD

Three Circles of Pigment LS

Filters LS

Making a Rainbow LS

Emission Spectra LS

Biofluorescence LS

Comments and Suggestions

Color Essay Magazine of Fantasy and Sciene Fiction. PD

CIE Color Chromaticity Diagram

Fresnel lenses.


5. June 30  Images

Images PD

Mirrors Right and Left PD

Anamorphic Art Julie Yu, Don Rathjen

Cylindrical Mirrors 

Conical Mirrors

Comments and Suggestions

Introduction to Fresnel lenses.

Fresnel lens and laser

All about lenses

6. July 1 Cycles and Time

Biological Cycles Katie Ward

Rock and Water Cycles  Eric Muller

Eric's website

Astronomy Cycles LS

Water Cycle PD

Outdoor Exploratorium


7. July 5 Evolution


Gravity Well

Bohr Atom in a gravity well

Gravity Well Model of the tides

Orbits in gravity wells with different shapes

MR diagram  PD Plot the mass versus radius o objects in the Universe.

Astronomy Activities LS

Astronomy Objects Game LS

Life Histories of Stars LS

HR Diagram LS

Class Mass Height diagram LS

number of stars
The number of stars in the neighborhood of the sun versus spectral types.
The smallest star we have seen is 0.1 solar masses the largest is 100 solar masses.

Geology PD , Eric Muller

Biology  Katie Ward

Enzyme Simulation  Katie Ward

Biology Charlie Carlson 


Demonstrating Natural Selection Using Magnetic Bacteria PD

Keyless Lamp Socket Adapter

Amazon listing of Keyless Lamp Socket Adapter

Einsteins Messengers  Movie and lesson plans on gravity waves.

8. July 6 RAFT Pinholes and Magnetism

Magnetism PD

Magnetic lecture slides

Pinhole Eric Muller

9. July 7 Atom

Electrostatics lecture slides

Electrostatics,  PD

Handy Measuring Tool  LS

Earth and Moon LS

Moonphases LS

Solar System Pocket LS

Hole Punch Earth LS

Julie Yu's activities on her site near the bottm of her page http://www.exo.net/~jyu/summer2011

Toys from Trash Site Modesto Tamez

10. Teacher Share-a-thon

Amy Holloway Schwartz Adapted for Survival

Manzar Bouyancy

Jennie Serra Guidry Conic Activity

Janice Valletta Mendelyev's Cards

Nancy    Density Challenge Student      Teacher

Karen Mathews  Rube Goldberg Machine    Form

Ty Fredericks  Iron Science Teacher Magnetic Eddy Currents

Jeffrey Herbst Snack Tectonics

Katherine Lemmi

Nature of Science Vocabulary

Vocabulary words

Nature of Science matching

The problem of oil spills ppt

Oil Spill Lab

The problem of oil spills worksheet

Oil spill cleanup outline

Oil spill organizer

Heather Tyan Ball Pass and Dot Game    Dot Game Powerpoint

Amber Lancaster  Monster Mash Genetics   Monster mash instructions  Monster mash mp3

Dan Webre phytoplankton

William Katzman Homopolar

Joanie Le Cleaning Acid Rain  



Elliptical Orbits LS

Heather Tynan shares a great website Teach Engineering

Beth Cutter 

Mentos and Soda Inquiry  Teacher Notes


Mitosis Guessing Game cards docx Mitosis Guessing Game Cards pdf

Cell Structures Guessing Game Doc

Cell Structure Guessing Game pdf

Effect of salt on boiling

Lenore Kenny  Observation/Provocation Invisible Marble

Crystal Mitchell Cool Math Games  Towers of Hanoi, Eight Queens, Knight Switch

Eric Martin Single Pendulum  Double Pendulum

Glen Geiss Speaker Building Doc  Speaker building pdf   Speaker checklist

Jeremy Young Simple Speaker


Kati Ward Flower seed and dissection


Welcome to the on-line companion to the Exploratorium Summer Institute for High School Science teachers.

Each Institute consist of a series of hands-on workshops taught at Exploratorium Exhibits and in classrooms using inexpensive versions of Exploratorium exhibits.

Year 2011 is the twenty-seventh year of Physics Summer Institutes.

Each day begins with pastry, fruit and coffee.

While we feed our bodies, we feed our minds too.
We discuss questions of life, the universe and everything.
We look for questions that students ask and for strategies to answer them.

After we're fed, we head out to the floor of the Exploratorium to explore scientific phenomena at museum exhibits.

teachers explore the sound column
Here teachers listen to sounds in The Sound Column

After some time exploring exhibits, we return to the classroom to use inexpensive versions of Exploratorium exhibits known as, "Snacks" to explore the phenomena of science. In my classes I use facilitated exploration to guide the teachers to a deeper understanding of science. By modeling this approach I hope the teachers will use it in their classes.

Teachers explore electric charge using Scotch Magic Tape

Teachers use Scotch Magic Tape to explore electric charge.

After the classroom explorations, the teachers are turned loose to learn on their own.
They go to the Exploratorium Learning Studio where information professionals help them to find resources for science teaching.
They go to the Teacher Machine shop where they build their own classroom versions of Exploratorium exhibits.
They prepare lessons which they present to their colleague teachers every Friday during the Summer Institute.
And, they talk with each other and with the Exploratorium Staff, sharing their teaching experiences.

The Web Pages

The following web pages contain a sample of the material I use in the Physics Summer Institute. It has been posted quickly to provide a resource for teachers. I am always adding images, rewriting, and reorganizing the material to make it easier to use.

This material is in draft form!

As you do these explorations, write me with your comments and questions. pauld@exploratorium.edu

Now, grab some food and a beverage then join me exploring nature with the activities and explorations from the Summer Institute.

In our workshops we provide many simple materials, these are stored in rolling carts.

Here are the contents of our carts: TI Carts

Paul's Homepage 

Scientific Explorations with Paul Doherty


22 May 2011