It’s Called the Snackbook Because It’s So Tasty

by Christi Carpenter, teacher and Jossey-Bass’ summer teacher consultant

The first three weeks of my summer were spent at one of the coolest indoor locations in the San Francisco Bay area: The Exploratorium!

The original hands on museum, the Exploratorium has created or inspired exhibits and programs in 80% of the world’s science museums.    Because of its continued innovation and ongoing influence, The New York Times calls it “the most important science museum to have opened since the mid-20th century.”   Having spent a few weeks at The Teacher Institute, learning from inspiring science educators amid the Exploratorium’s 600+ exhibits, I couldn’t wait to start designing my own curriculum for the next school year.

I was super lucky to get to spend time in the actual Exploratorium, to see (and touch) their ingenious exhibits.  However, my most significant learning came not from the place, but from its inventive and curious spirit.  The Exploratorium was founded in 1969, and it has been DIY since before that was a recognized abbreviation.  They were hackers, when hacking wasn’t cool, or even invented (they may have actually had a hand in inventing it, now that I think about it).

Nowhere does the do-it-yourself ethos shine through more than in their outstanding book, The Exploratorium Science Snackbook.  The “snackbook” title comes from the name of The Exploratorium’s made-up-as-they-went guide to creating museum exhibits, which they called a “cookbook.”  Since the projects in the Snackbook are small or simplified versions of those exhibits, well, you get it.

These science snacks can be cooked up by teachers, students, and amateur scientists with minimal expenditure and no obscure materials.  The wonder of them is that they do a remarkable job of turning theoretical knowledge into genuine understanding.  Try out this activity to see what I mean.

CLICK HERE for an activity excerpt

Simple, satisfying, and substantive: that’s a good snack.  And The Exploratorium Science Snackbook is full of them.

The Exploratorium Science Snackbook: Cook Up Over 100 Hands-On Science Exhibits from Everyday Materials, Revised Edition (2009) — 9780470481868








Christi Carpenter is an English teacher in Oakland, California. This summer she is working as a teacher consultant for Jossey-Bass, offering a teacher’s perspective on professional development. Christi cannot believe she is entering her thirteenth year of classroom teaching.

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