Creating and testing ideas for new public spaces in San Francisco.

Exploratorium ‘Ciencia Publica’ Parklet

Exploratorium 'Ciencia Publica' Parklet / Image by Stella Kim
Location: 1237 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110  show map
Installed: April 2015
Designed by: Exploratorium’s Studio for Public Spaces
Hosted by: Buena Vista Horace Mann Middle School and the San Francisco Boys & Girls Clubs (BGC)


Ciencia Public Parklet is currently hosted by Horace Mann Middle School, just outside the school campus entrance on Valencia Street between 23rd and 24th Streets. The Exploratorium worked with the Boys & Girls Club to investigate several other sites throughout San Francisco, finally collaborating with the administration at Horace Mann Middle School.


This installation was planned jointly by students from the San Francisco Boys & Girls Clubs (BGC) and a team from the Exploratorium’s Studio for Public Spaces. The parklet—a temporary public space the size of two parking spaces—holds exhibits on the theme of water and sustainable water use, including a desalination pump, a rain gauge, and a low-evaporation plant watering device. Seating and greenery, including food plants free for harvesting by locals, make the parklet a comfortable and attractive neighborhood space.

The parklet was co-developed with community-based organizations in the Mission—a process that was as important as the ultimate product. Neighborhood youth from the BGC spent two summers working with the Exploratorium to plan the public space. In the process, they developed skills in design and planning, exhibit prototyping, fabrication, and user testing. The parklet now resides next to Buena Vista Horace Mann School, where teachers, parents, and the school garden leader worked with us to shape the final plans so the parklet would become an active part of the school curriculum and the community.


Ciencia Pública was a three-year project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support informal education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) within the Latino community. Latinos constitute the largest minority group in the United States, but they remain underserved by STEM learning experiences and under-represented in STEM careers. This project attempts to address that imbalance by creating an informal science learning space accessible to all members of the Mission neighborhood.


Community Partners: Exploratorium’s Studio for Public Spaces,San Francisco Boys & Girls Clubs (BGC)Horace Mann Middle School.


The Exploratorium continues to evaluate how the Ciencia Publica is meeting science education goals for the youth of the Mission District.


More photos of #CienciaPublica on Instagram.


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