A Portable Exploratorium: Creating Hands-On Learning Experiences for the iPad

Jean Cheng, USA

The Exploratorium debuted its first iPad app, Color Uncovered, in 2011, followed in February 2013 by Sound Uncovered. Both apps were developed by in-house teams and are available for free in the iTunes App Store.

Much like the Exploratorium itself, the apps are hard to categorize because they offer a hybrid experience, combining playful and surprising interactivities with experiments, articles and multimedia while touching on topics as diverse as science, art, music, and illusions.

Color Uncovered asks, How is Monet like a honeybee? What color is a whisper? The app includes simple color experiments you can do with common objects found at home: a CD case, a piece of paper and a drop of water.

Sound Uncovered takes you on a journey out into the world and inside your head: How do you make a saxophone growl? Why can’t you talk and listen at the same time? See what you can discover by experimenting with different sounds and adding in some of your own.

Like many of the Exploratorium's award-winning websites, these apps are designed to extend the visitor experience beyond the museum’s walls—not defined by geography and physical space but in a philosophical sense—engaging users with hands-on learning in authentic, personal ways. Color Uncovered and Sound Uncovered explore new possibilities for re-imagining content within a digital, tactile environment.

In this demonstration, key project staff from the Exploratorium will be on hand to show the apps and answer questions about the content, the experience design and the development process.