Exploralab by the Exploratorium, Book Review

We were sent a free copy of Exploralab to review, but all ideas shared here are our own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Exploralab Book Review

We were thrilled to get an advance copy of Exploralab by The Exploratorium (Weldon Owen, September 2013) to review for our readers. Do you know about the Exploratorium in San Francisco, or have you ever been? In a nutshell, the Exploratorium a wonder-filled interactive science and creativity center with ground-breaking exhibits that set the bar for many science museums around the world. If you’re an educator or homeschooler, the Exploratorium’s Educator pages are full of ideas that are sure to inspire, regardless of where you live.

Related to that, if you’re a fan of the Exploratorium or would love to grab a piece of its magic, this new book, Exploralab: 150+ Ways to Investigate the Amazing Science All Around Youwill transport you to San Francisco’s Pier 15 with its hands-on projects that encourage children explore science in their everyday world. 

So what’s inside?

The book is full of fun, easy-to-read science activities for parents, caregivers, and teachers to share with young children. You’ll be happy to sit down, like we did, and flip through the pages with your child to select activities together. If you have an older child, you might like to gift them a copy to browse through when that “I’m bored” feeling settles in.

The projects are a delight in the way that they break down complex science into bite-size, digestible chunks. Something else about this book that I know a lot of our readers will appreciate is that the materials and tools are generally things you can easily find in your pantry: paper, pencils, glue, scissors, measuring spoons, etc.

Still interested? Let’s take a peek inside…

The Inside Cover

Inside cover Exploralab Review

See that little window on the left? it has a clear envelope that you can open, and then pull out a cool plastic lens that does this…

Exploralab Review Inside Cover

Cool! We’re off to a fun start! The inside of the cover really sets the tone for the rest of the book, as more interactive elements follow.

Exploralab Review Lab 3 closet flaps

Engaging Labs

The book is full of “150+ ways to investigate the amazing science all around you,” that are contained within fourteen “Labs” that encompass topics such as school, nature, the city, and games. For example…

Game Hour Exploralab

Roller Coaster Exploralab

Lab #05: The Street Underneath Your Feet

My five-year old and I flipped through the pages and I asked her to pick a project that looked like fun. You can probably see that she tabbed more than one page. We decided to start with “Lab #05: The Street Underneath Your Feet.” Zoom in and you’ll see that this spread is full of ideas for engaging children in the science of the street. Ideas like using your feet as rulers to measure distance, studying shadows to understand more about how the earth spins, and making rubbings from found textures.

Rubbing Lab Instructions Exploralab review

This last idea is what we dug into.

Exploralab review rubbing directions

I really enjoyed the relief that’s set right into the book! Take a look at the bottom of this next picture and you’ll see what I’m talking about. What a clever idea.

Exploralab how to make rubbings

We ran our crayon right over the page to understand the project before hitting the streets.

Exploralab rubbing in book

Our Experience

We made a simple book from four sheets of paper, stapled three times along the edge, and then took it outside to gather some manmade and natural textures.

Rubbing Water Grate

Leaf rubbing Exploralab Review

The next project my daughter plans to tackles is the Juice-Tasting Challenge, where you change the color of familiar drinks with food coloring and challenge people to guess what they’re drinking. The eyes and tongue send off conflicting flavor messages and we’re excited to see what will happen.

Exploralab Breakfast Lab

If this looks like it could be a good addition to your library, you can find your own copy of Exploralab through Amazon. We’re an affiliate, and your purchase helps keep our Tinker-engine running, so thank you!

Exploralab BookLearn More

Visit the Exploratorium

See our review of another book from the Exploratorium, The Art of Tinkering

I was fortunate to hold my book launch party at Helix, a temporary outpost of The Exploratorium in Los Altos, CA.

The Exploratorium’s Education page has a host of valuable resources for home tinkerers and educators.

You can search part of their site for videos that explore all sorts of science + art phenomena.



  1. Wow, simply great. Cant wait to have one

    • Thanks, Alina! I would have loved this book when I was a child.

  2. Outstanding book! We also hope to make it to the Exploratorium in its new location one day!

    • Thanks for sharing your endorsement, Jonalyn! I’m a huge fan of the Exploratorium, and I’m pretty sure I’d drool over anything they come up with.

  3. I would love to win this for my new home day care, I love science!

    • Hi Lisa,

      Just be sure to sign up for our newsletter and we’ll send out more info about the giveaway soon!


  4. I would love to win this for my new home day care, I love science!!

    • Thanks for your comment, Carolyn. It’s a super cool book.

  5. I’d seen this a while ago, but had forgotten about it. I’ve signed up for the newsletter, although I’ll note that I much prefer to connect with you via facebook – I rarely read emails from blogs.

    • Hi Joy,
      That’s really good to know. Thanks for the feedback. We love Facebook too!

    • Hi Amber,

      If you’re not already getting our newsletter, just be sure to sign up for our it and we’ll send out more info about the giveaway soon!


  6. Have you seen the Exploratorium’s iPad apps? My kids love them, there’s one about sound and one about color.

    • Thanks for the recommendation! I just downloaded them and I’m very impressed!

  7. I know my kids would love to have this book! Great Christmas gift idea for all the kiddos in my life.

    • Hi Amber,
      If you’re interested in entering to win a copy of this book, check your newsletter for a unique link! If you’re not yet a subscriber, you can join here: https://tinkerlab.com/subscribe/

  8. This book looks great if I do not win a copy, I will be sure to purchase one.

    • Hi Danielle,
      If you’re interested in entering to win a copy of this book, check your newsletter for a unique link! If you’re not yet a subscriber, you can join here: https://tinkerlab.com/subscribe/

  9. This is so super cool and I know kids will love it!

  10. Thank you for introducing me to the Exploratorium and the Institute for Inquiry! I have shared these with my colleagues as we delve into furthering our wonderings into “inquiry”. We would love to add this wonderful book to our resource library!

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