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Abstract and Link to Report

The Place and Role of the Exploratorium’s Teacher Institute in Strengthening the Teaching of Science


Judy Hirabayashi, Laura Stokes, Inverness Research Inc.


San Francisco’s Exploratorium is a hands-on, interactive science museum whose mission is to foster deep understandings of scientific inquiry and transform science education. The Exploratorium’s Teacher Institute (TI) has been offering professional development programs for middle and high school science teachers for twenty years. The purpose of this report is to shed light on the distinctive role and place of the TI in contributing to the improvement of science teaching in the schools.

The report shows that:

  • TI programs enrich teachers’ science content knowledge, strengthen their classroom practice, provide them with inexpensive resources that reflect authentic science, and help them form professional identity and enjoy membership in professional community.
  • What teachers gain in TI programs helps their districts put science standards into practice.

The report offers a conceptual framework for understanding the ways in which an informal science-rich institution that is outside the education system can help strengthen science teaching within the system in ways the system is not able to do for its teachers. It has a five-page Executive Summary.

Intended Audience

Science Educators, Science Museum Educators, Teachers, School and District Administrators, Reform Leaders, and general public.


Any and all errors are claimed by the authors of this document, Inverness Research Associates

Date published

June 2006

Distribution Policy

Inverness Research Inc. grants permission to print and distribute copies.

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