Self-Quarantine STEM Style
by Annabelle Moore
Practicing safe social distancing doesn’t mean STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fans of all ages have to stop learning. While many schools, universities, workplaces, and labs are shuttered, museums around the world are opening their virtual doors to online visitors.
With these science-themed museums and activities, your whole family can explore the mysterious depths of the ocean floor, the natural history of plants and animals, view delicate ancient artifacts, and soar into intergalactic space. Many of the museums below offer educational resources and science activities for K-12, lesson plans, creative activities, and more. Researchers, scientists, students, and STEM-nerds-at-heart rejoice. Learn something new and share your discoveries with your loved ones!
FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA
Explore American science & technology museums.
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Tucked into the hallowed halls of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., the wonders of the natural world are waiting for you to find them. Virtual visitors can tour both the permanent and current exhibitions, as well as explore photo archives of past special exhibits. You can view the Smithsonian Museum Support Center where artifacts are stored and preserved behind the scenes, and get a taste of daily life for marine ecologists working at two ocean research stations. Visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
If you’re interested in seeing all the online exhibits offered by the entire collection of Smithsonian Museums check out their virtual catalog here. You can filter your search by selecting a specific museum or topic—there are over 45 science-themed exhibits.
- The Franklin Institute
Science never stops and neither does the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Enjoy discussions with curators and scientists on robots, the international space station, bad science, and brain puzzles. Virtual tours through their giant heart display and daily live streams on the Franklin Institute’s social media channels bring the museum to your home. Learn more at The Franklin Institute.
- The Exploratorium
The Exploratorium in San Francisco, California, offers a multimedia toolbox of educational materials for kids of all ages. Learn about coronavirus science by making crafts, watching videos, and scientifically examining your world at home. You can also explore the Exploratorium’s exhibits through videos, pictures, and games. Visit The Exploratorium.
- NASA Langley Research Center
With the virtual tour of the Langley Research Center, the doors to NASA exploration are wide open! From the Katherine G. Johnson computational research facility, to the incredible tech of the wind tunnels and flight simulators, you can go behind the scenes and learn the skill and smarts it takes to launch a rocket. Via videos and self-guided tours, you can click your way through the fascinating history and exciting future of space research. Visit the NASA Langley Research Center Virtual Tour.
- Museum of DisABILITY History
The Museum of disABILITY History in Buffalo, New York, features a virtual tour allowing guests to sightsee their exhibits on media, medicine, society, and the progress of disability education and advocacy. Visitors can explore photos of the lives and stories of persons experiencing disabilities throughout history. The museum also offers educational materials, lesson plans, and activities for K-12th grade. Visit the Museum of DisABILITY History.
- National Women’s History Museum
Check out how women broke ground at NASA. How they stepped into STEM careers. Explore the history of innovative women inventors with the virtual exhibits at the National Women’s History Museum in Alexandria, Virginia. There are several online exhibits to discover such as women in computer programming, World War I and II, and Women Air Force Service Pilots. Learn more at the National Women’s History Museum.
- Museum of Science + Industry Chicago
The “Science at Home” activities from the Museum of Science + Industry Chicago include hands-on engineering activities, educational science videos, and interactive games. Founded in 1933 the museum’s focus is on the future—encouraging children to find their STEM passion. Learn more about one of America’s largest science museums by visiting the Museum of Science + Industry Chicago.
- Museum of National Archives
From reading our nation’s founding documents to educational resources for K-12 the Museum of National Archives has something for every history and science fan. The current special exhibition “Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote” is available to explore virtually via videos and photos. You can view records from the great 1906 San Francisco fire and earthquake, the deadly Influenza Epidemic of 1918, and see how each president progressed the U.S. Space Program forward to its goal of reaching the moon. Visit the Museum of National Archives.
- Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum: Time and Navigation
You won’t get lost while exploring the Time and Navigation online exhibition from the Smithsonian but you may lose track of time. Dive into the 300-year history of how humans have found our way around our wild planet. Learn to navigate across the sea, find your bearings in the air, and soar through space by using tools like latitude and longitude and G.P.S. Check it out at Time and Navigation: The untold story of getting from here to there at the Smithsonian.
- Museum of Science
The Museum of Science in Boston has a host of educational tools, a daily live stream with museum educators, and STEM activities for the whole family. Enjoy learning the ins and outs of quantum tech matter and the challenges of human DNA editing at the Museum of Science.
- Virtual Museum of Molecules and Minerals from the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Want to explore the world at the atomic level? Check out the molecular relationships between the atoms in earth’s minerals by exploring 3D visualizations of diamonds, quartz, and organic soil. You can highlight and rotate each molecule to see its internal atomic structure. Learn more at the Virtual Museum of Molecules and Minerals.
- The Tech Interactive
Everyone can be an innovator at the Tech Interactive Center in San Jose, California. This STEM museum has a suite of classroom lesson plans and hands-on engineering and technology activities for parents and educators to work with their students at home. Check out The Tech Interactive.
- NASA Glenn Research Center
Hungry for more space science? Head over to the NASA Glenn Research Center’s virtual tour of their Cleveland, Ohio, facility. You can self-click through their propulsion systems laboratory, see how researchers anticipate damage to space power systems at the ballistic impact facility, and learn what life with zero-gravity is like. Learn more at the NASA Glenn Research Center.
- Interactive Archaeology Digs
Join in on digs happening all over the world with the Archaeological Institute of America and Archaeology Magazine. From deep diving shipwrecks in the Black Sea to venturing into Mayan jungle caves, and excavating medieval monasteries in Ireland, you’ll get a front-row seat to discover the day-to-day life of cultures past. Learn how archaeologists use cutting edge technology to unveil the mysteries of history with Interactive Digs.
- National Museum of the United States Air Force
Jump into the cockpit of the fastest and most well-equipped aircraft in the world with a virtual tour of the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Spend a day learning how crews move troops, humanitarian aid, and Antarctic ice resupply in the cockpit of a C-130E Hercules, take a sneak peek inside presidential Air Force One, or learn the science behind jet mid-air refueling capabilities. Podcasts, videos, and a self-guided tour through every gallery offer you a wonderful day in the ‘wild blue yonder’ of Air Force aviation. Visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
- The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks
Travel across the United States with this stunning online collection of National Park exhibits. You can zero in on your favorite places in your home state or follow a park ranger behind the scenes of your dream bucket list locations. Journey from caverns deep underground to tropical forests, the low desert canyon lands up to the highest peaks, and discover the natural beauty of our nation with The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks.
- Institute of Navigation Virtual Museum
The non-profit Institute of Navigation hosts the entirely online Navigation Museum where visitors can learn about air, land, sea, and space navigation. Geared for adults this resource highlights methods and technology of navigation through history via photos and archives. Visit the Institute of Navigation Museum.
- The Georgia Aquarium
Animal lovers, marine minders, and biology fans can enjoy daily live streams of Georgia Aquarium’s most famous inhabitants: sea otters, beluga whales, and a host of tropical reef dwellers. The museum has podcasts, daily educational video streams, curriculum materials, and more for parents and educators. Learn how to conserve and protect our world’s precious ocean life with The Georgia Aquarium.
Virtual science museums from around the world.
- History of Science Museum, Oxford, England
Ever wonder how the ‘miracle’ antibiotic penicillin, which saved millions of lives, was discovered? Curious to learn what astrophysics can teach us about ourselves? Interested in finding out how a camera obscura or a Gregorian telescope work? Explore these questions and more through apps, podcasts, and an interactive tour of all 3 floors of galleries at the History of Science Museum.
- Museo Galileo, Florence, Italy
Travel to Florence and explore the virtual exhibitions of the Museo Galileo. You can examine early renaissance world maps, Leonardo Da Vinci’s schematics, and a collection of scientific and medical medals from their history of medicine coin collection. Learn about the navigation and science skills of a 15th-century galley commander Michael of Rhodes. A remarkable sailor who documented his rise from an oarsman to a commander in over 200 pages of calculations, navigation notes, and shipbuilding records. Multiple languages are available for most virtual exhibits. It’s all at the Museo Galileo.
- National Museum of Computing, Bletchley, England
Learn about the amazing mathematical skill craft of super-computing geniuses at the National Museum of Computing located at the famous Bletchley Park, England. The virtual tour features the world’s largest collection of working computers from the 1940 World War Two code crackers to modern-day personal computers. Check it out at the National Museum of Computing.
- CERN Particle Accelerator, Geneva, Switzerland
Curious how physicists and engineers learn about the smallest particles of our world to explore life’s biggest questions? Check out one of the most complex machines in the world—the Large Hadron Collider, then dive into discussions on antimatter and the groundbreaking Higgs boson discovery. With videos, virtual tours and more you’ll learn the secrets of the atomic universe in no time. CERN has also collaborated with Google Arts and Culture to create the Big Bang AR app. A mixed reality and media journey through the Universe. Learn more at CERN.
- Natural History Museum, London, England
Want to learn how to identify nature around you? Check out the Natural History Museum’s apps and guides. You can learn all about dinosaurs, evolution, and work on open-air laboratory experiments with activities and lesson plans. The museum has over 4,480,000 thousand items in its digital catalog. From glittering exotic insects to Darwin’s fossils, there are endless items to explore at the Natural History Museum.
- The Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, Hong Kong, China
Interested to learn at the intersection of Eastern and Western Medicine? You can browse through a virtual medicinal herb garden and sightsee through exhibitions on the 1894 plague and 2003 SARS epidemic. The museum also has coloring pages and educational materials on its home page. Check out the three exhibitions available virtually with Google Arts & Culture from The Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences.
- Google World Wonder’s Project
Travel around the world and learn geography by visiting not just the seven wonders of the ancient world, but our modern wonders of culture, architecture, and engineering. Through videos, 3D-models, pictures, and more you can sightsee your dream destinations without leaving your couch. Check out Google World Wonder’s Project.
- The British Museum, London, England
Over 60 galleries, eight million objects, curator videos, audio tours, podcasts that go behind the scenes, and educational resources are all available from the British Museum. This astounding collection is free and open for you to explore. Learn how curators and conservators use the latest science to preserve and protect ancient artifacts from Egyptian mummies to the Rosetta Stone. Find a million and one things to learn at The British Museum.
- The Royal Belgium Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium
Watch a Peregrine falcon family nest via live streams and explore natural science projects at home with the Royal Belgium Institute of Natural Sciences. Enjoy a self-guided tour through the cavernous galleries filled with dinosaur fossils. For multilingual science fans, the museum has Dutch and French documentaries as well as an online biodiversity course. Check out The Royal Belgium Institute of Natural Sciences.
- The German Oceanographic Museum, Stralsund, Germany
A virtual tour through the German Oceanographic Museum can be conducted in English, German, and Polish. You can explore their special collections on Oceanography and Marine Biology and the history of fishing. Learn more at The German Oceanographic Museum.
- Museu do Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow), Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil
With content available in Portuguese and English, you can explore the Museum of Tomorrow’s applied science exhibitions to your heart’s content. Five galleries are available on Google Arts & Culture from “The Hidden Beauty of Mathematics” to “Endangered Rivers.” To learn more, check out the Museu do Amanha.
- National Museums of Kenya
With over 125 stories to explore on Google Arts & Culture, the National Museums of Kenya brings you vivid histories of traditional folk medicine, healing, and the science of beekeeping culture. From diverse tribal medical magic to the evolution of our earliest human ancestors, learn about the peoples and cultures of Kenya with the National Museums of Kenya.
- Sciences at Versailles, France
While the famous French palace of kings may not immediately come to mind as a place of scientific learning, it was deeply connected to the Royal Academy of Sciences. Learn about the 17th and 18th-century experiments conducted on palace grounds and the invention of many scientific instruments. Go behind palace politics and intrigue to learn the heritage of science at the Virtual Exhibition of Sciences at Versailles.
- Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Tokyo, Japan
Where else can you learn about cutting edge robotics? Or watch a sumo wrestler explain the facts of influenza transmission? Only in Tokyo! Explore science topics with videos in English and Japanese. You can also become a Citizen Astronomer with the collaborative Citizen Science Project Galaxy Cruise. Learn more at the Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.
- AI: More than Human
Google Arts & Culture in collaboration with the Barbican Arts Center in London, England, brings you a fascinating look at the relationship between technology and humans. You can learn the basics of artificial intelligence, discover 25 moments that defined AI technology, and explore current questions and controversies of this astounding technology. Learn more at AI: More than Human.
Enjoy discovering the secrets of the wild wonderful world around us.
Let us know what cool things you learn!