Help Explora make Sketch Aquarium a permanent Explora exhibit. This interactive, multimedia installation from Team Lab in Japan merges art, science, technology, and your imagination while you dream up, sketch, and release your very own sea creature into a digital sea and watch it come to life.
As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, Explora relies on your support to provide engaging, hands-on exhibits and programs to our community. Sketch Aquarium opens this month in the Explora Theater; $10,000 of community support will allow us to offset the costs of making this a permanent Explora exhibition.
Why Sketch Aquarium
As our visitors know well, Explora’s 250+ hands-on, inquiry-based exhibits span all science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) fields. Sketch Aquarium enhances learning opportunities in the technology and art content areas, providing opportunities to both practice skills and build excitement. Visitors develop their own undersea narrative while they hand-draw creatures that excite and intrigue them, utilize technology to scan their creatures into a digital sea projected onto a large wall, watch their creatures come to life and begin to swim, and then follow and feed their creatures on their own journeys. Everyone who experiences this exhibit leaves energized about exploration and inquiry, thinking about the sea and the science inherent to it, and with an expanded passion for lifelong learning.
Learners in engaging experiences like Sketch Aquarium often don’t realize the amount of critical thinking and learning they are doing, because they are focused on the fun and joy underlying their challenges at hand. Your support will allow us to extend this experience to our 238,000+ student and family visitors annually.
Why Support Explora
Explora is an innovative experiential learning center located in Albuquerque, New Mexico with a mission of creating opportunities for inspirational discovery and the joy of lifelong learning through interactive experiences in science, technology, and art. Explora addresses its mission by providing innovative programs and exhibit activities that illuminate basic concepts and engage people of all ages with the tools and equipment related to STEAM fields. At Explora, visitors get to play with scientific phenomena in intimate spaces by interacting with flowing water, creating fields of charged particles, exploring the mathematical and artistic properties of symmetry and perspective, and tackling the paradoxes of perception. As a result of these playful experiences, visitors develop a new understanding of the basic scientific principles and gain a broader perspective on the world around them. Learning about STEAM fields through play is powerful; it not only expands learners’ competency and interest in STEAM fields, but it also builds confidence in learners’ STEAM abilities and capability to enter STEAM careers.
Visits to Explora offer parents and children time together, engaged in activities that foster inquiry and nurture relationships. Research supports the importance of experiential learning in developing children’s thinking skills and promoting educational success (Dierking & Pollock, 1998; IMLS, 2002). Explora’s STEAM programs make new concepts interesting and immediate, motivating participants to learn and explore. Expanding opportunities for play at Explora directly supports our mission and enriches our ability to light sparks of STEAM interest across our community.
Risks and challenges
Explora is a vital community resource, working systemically with local partners to contribute to community change; in this case, to improve New Mexico’s ranking as 49th in the nation for children’s education and well-being. As New Mexico’s only experiential science center and children’s museum, we are uniquely suited to providing direct experience with the materials and tools intrinsic to STEAM exploration, as well as engaging families in shared learning. We work with partners to increase interest in and access to STEAM learning experiences for families and lessen the achievement gap.
Explora is driven by our values of Community and Learning; we work with our statewide community to co-develop projects that address shared aspirations of creating a safe, child-centered community and a place to provide opportunities for lifelong learning. We also work with community partners to help overcome the challenges that stifle access to the kinds of educational opportunities that can inspire our youth to achieve beyond what they believe possible. We are committed to working systemically with community partners to address significant educational needs in our state. Our activities are designed to support New Mexico's educational standards by providing students alternative approaches to content.
Our Community’s Realities
New Mexico faces significant challenges, as well-known by our National KIDS COUNT ranking of 49th in the nation for education and overall child well-being. Our state is plagued by some of the highest rates of poverty, school drop-outs, teen pregnancy, and substance abuse in the US. These factors are cyclic, affecting generation after generation, and stifle access to educational opportunities that can move youth beyond economic limitations. Compounding these factors, as our schools keep narrowing curricular focus to areas on mandated tests, students are missing out on interdisciplinary, hands-on activities that promote in-depth understanding and the ability to integrate abstract information with direct experience, particularly in STEAM. These kinds of inquiry-rich, play-oriented, materials-based STEAM learning experiences are essential to developing the interest and confidence needed to pursue STEAM careers; however, access is limited for schools in our community, especially for those in low-income areas, already experiencing stress meeting students’ basic needs. Explora plays a vital role in addressing these significant needs and issues by targeting students at all levels to build interest, competence, and confidence in STEAM fields through experiential programs and activities. Our ability to connect and raise resources determines just how far our programs reach each year.
Explora’s Role in our Community
Explora's innovative, hands-on exhibits and program activities engage people of all ages with small-scale materials and equipment in personal spaces where family and friends can communicate comfortably with each other, manipulate a wide range of physical variables, and develop their own thinking about the basic processes and materials investigated and used by STEAM disciplines. Explora’s various community engagement initiatives build access to these activities across our entire community by providing unlimited access to Explora for over 13,000 low-income families via no-cost memberships and by bringing Explora’s programming to over 62,000 students across all of New Mexico, many of whom are in rural areas where quality educational resources are even more limited. Research supports the importance of experiential learning in developing children's thinking skills and promoting educational success (Dierking & Pollock 1998; IMLS 2002). Additionally, the sense of capability participants develop through experiential learning activities is vitally important, because students are more likely to engage and persist in activities they feel capable of completing due to increased positive regard and sense of value (Murdock, 1999). Your support of Explora’s Sketch Aquarium will help Explora provide new activities and broaden our impact in our community.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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