Tinker, Tinker, Little Stars
Posted on January 5, 2015
We had an opportunity to take our daughters with their younger cousins to visit Exploratorium in San Francisco during the holiday break. As usual in a place like this, children and the young minds are the stars of the museum. This museum is full of interactive exhibits that will absolutely piqué one’s mind. It’s hard to just stare and observe without exploring them with your own hands (hence the name “Exploratorium”).
I found out that the founder of this institution was Frank Oppenheimer. His last name definitely rings a bell. I’m talking about the Manhattan Project in the mid-40s during the 2nd world war era. He was the younger brother of Robert Oppenheimer, the father of Atomic Bomb. I’m sure you are all familiar with the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombing in the mid-40s (yeah, I love history).
The interior of the building is like a factory filled with machineries and tools. You will not enjoy if you are there for sightseeing alone. The possibilities to examine them with your hands and mind are practically infinite. It’s a joy for someone who is a hands-on person with inquisitive mind which fits the character of a youngster, ok, perhaps older people too!… Part of my role was to keep an eye on these four minors. They were oblivious of each other as soon as they started tinkering into exhibits. I enjoyed watching them as well as playing with the exhibits.
What interests me most was the social and behavioral impact of the exhibit. It helps the visitors figure out how things work yet at the same time, it gives information on the social aspect of why people behave the way they want to manipulate things. It reminds me of good ol’ days in my experimental psychology class back in college years.
Social dilemmas were featured. One of the best examples was the prisoner’s dilemma where it involves two participants which create an outcome where they cannot cooperate in any decision due to distrust of each other. The result is often one person squirting water on his or her partner’s face or sometimes, no effect at all because of the fear that the other will do the same. It was fun because the participants cannot see each other’s move yet it teaches a lesson to ponder. The kids were confused at first until they tried doing it.
The museum was packed with visitors and we were lucky to get a good parking spot. The downside however is the rip-off parking price tag. We were charged for $45 because our vehicle was considered “full-size”. On the plus is the cheaper admission ticket because we are from the bay area; ok fine, I call it quits!
Overall, the experience was fecund and it seems that the children enjoyed the museum where tinkering gave them new perspectives to remember, hopefully for a long time.