The Exploratorium’s Virtual Museum and Immersive Science for the May 24th NonProfit Commons Meeting

This Friday, May 24th, Nonprofit Commons is happy to feature Paul Doherty (Patio Plasma in SL), Senior Scientist at the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco, CA, who will present about immersive science exhibits and learning projects, as well as the experience of the Exploratorium running the oldest Science Museum sims in Second Life.


About Paul Doherty:

Paul Doherty is a physicist, author, teacher, and the founding director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the Exploratorium. He is the discoverer of the shape of Martian Snowflakes, was author of The Explorabook, and he loves teaching online courses. 


About The Exploratorium:

The Exploratorium uses the virtual world to prototype exhibits for the real world museum. For example, The new exhibit Twinkling Suppressor, which still works better in SL than RL, as well as the design for the human ride-able Newton’s cradle. (See images below.) They run mixed reality events streaming coverage of eclipses and planetary transits into Second Life while showing the virtual audience on screens in the real life museum. It allows them to build exhibits quickly following real life events, three days after the Tsunami in Japan, Emileigh Starbrook built a model of the type of reactor that was destroyed by the tsunami. A Japanese video producer then used this model in her program describing the failure of the reactor. When an asteroid threatened to collide with Mars in 2007 they made a model of the impact, and now in 2014 a comet threatens Mars again. They also host Virtually Speaking Science in their sim, and present occasional Saturday Science lectures. The experience gained by presenting science lectures virtually has helped the Exploratorium gain insight as they run their online workshops for teachers. Their sister sim in Second Life houses the Splo Museum; having the Splo allows them to experiment with exhibits that might be too edgy for the real life museum, for example they have a building that houses virtual exhibits that make fun of exhibits at the physical museum in San Francisco. The sims are supported by funders both inside Second Life, as well as grants from foundations and individuals.


Join us in Second Life!


Nonprofit Commons Weekly Meeting

Friday, May 24th, 8:30 AM PDT / SLT

Plush Nonprofit Commons Amphitheater



  • 8:30 am Introductions
  • 8:40 am TechSoup Announcements
  • 8:45 am Mentors Central  
  • 9:00 am Featured Presentation: Paul Doherty (Patio Plasma in SL)
  • 9:30 am Open Mic / Announcements


The mission of the Nonprofit Commons in Second Life is to create a community for nonprofits to explore and learn about virtual worlds, foster connections, and discover the many ways in which nonprofits might utilize the unique environment of Second Life to achieve their missions.

Written by: Rhiannon Chatnoir