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The Exploratorium’s Geometry Playground project

Geometry Playground is a project of the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Its largest product, four years in the making, is a major traveling exhibition that encourages visitors to use spatial reasoning, a kind of thinking where you make mental pictures of shapes and spaces. But the project was much more than just the exhibition.

Visitor research

The Geometry Playground team conducted two research studies of visitors who used pilot exhibits at the Exploratorium in 2009. One study investigated elementary school students and the impact of teacher-led geometry activities used before, during, and after their visit. The second study explored visitor interactions and spatial reasoning while using geometry exhibits. We also conducted several formative evaluation studies as the exhibits were being developed. Reports and articles from these studies are available in our Visitor Research and Evaluation area.

Museum partnerships

The Exploratorium’s Geometry Playground team partnered with several science centers across the country to strategize the development and installation of large-scale math exhibits at those museums, with support from the project’s National Science Foundation grant.

Geometry on playgrounds

Geometry Playground also infused playgrounds with geometry. We installed a geometric net climber manufactured by our partner LSI, together with a label featuring geometry challenges and games, at Buena Vista/Horace Mann School in San Francisco. A similar climber and label were installed at Balboa Park in San Francisco. Both installations provide a mobile web link to more geometry activities to try on a playground.

Climbing structures collaboration

We partnered with Landscape Structures, Inc. (LSI), a playground equipment manufacturer based in Delano, Minnesota, to design and fabricate our larger climbing structures.

Geometry Playground is scheduled to travel to the following museums:

June 2012 to June 2014
Science Museum Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

June 2014 to June 2015
Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point
Lehi, Utah

For information on bringing Geometry Playground to your museum, please email Adrienne Barnett, Project Lead with ExNET.

Past venues:

June 2011 to June 2012
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
San Diego, California

January to May 2011
Don Harrington Discovery Center
Amarillo, Texas

October 2010 to January 2011
Science Museum of Minnesota
St. Paul, Minnesota

June to September 2010
San Francisco, California

The Exploratorium would like to thank the many people who made Geometry Playground possible.

Geometry Playground is made possible by the National Science Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

National Science Foundation Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation


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