SLC Young Ambassador Blog: Week 4

26 07 2013

Hello, my name is Alana Zamora from San Marcos, Texas. This year, I was selected as a 2013 Smithsonian Latino Center Young Ambassador; Up to twenty-four graduating high school seniors are selected each year and are given the amazing opportunity to intern in a museum/cultural institution in their local community for four weeks. Currently, I am interning here at the Austin Children’s Museum. This week is the last week of my internship, and in this blog post, I describe my experience here at the ACM, as well as, insights into the different summer camps that we offer here at the Museum.

This week’s full day camp at the Austin Children’s Museum for ages 7-10 was titled ‘Get a Clue’, and the half day camp for ages 4-6 was ‘Passport Adventures’. Each day, I photographed the camp’s field trips and activities, and filtered, edited and uploaded the photos that I took onto the Museum’s Flickr account.

On Monday, July 22nd, we walked a few blocks with the full day campers to The Driskill hotel. There, we were given a tour and were told of it’s history; We learned that for well over a century, historical benchmarks have been crafted at The Driskill, such as, when Former President Lyndon B. Johnson awaited news of his successful 1948 Senate run and his 1960 election to the office of Vice President, and 1964 election as President. We also learned of the ghosts that have reportedly been seen at the hotel! Colonel Driskill himself is said to wander through the original side of the hotel and the spirit of Samantha Houston, a senator’s young daughter who was chasing a ball when she fell to her death on the grand staircase, has been seen bouncing a ball along the corridors in the hotel.Image

On Tuesday, July 23rd, the full day campers took a tour of the Texas State Cemetary. The Cemetary is the burial place for soldiers and founders of the Republic and State of Texas, elected state officials, jurists and other prominent men and women. Culturally, the Cemetary is unique because it represents every aspect of Texas history from European Colonization to modern day Texas politics. The Texas State Cemetary is the burial site of Stephen F. Austin, Ed Burleson, Bob Bullock and many more historical and cultural icons.Image

On Wednesday, July 24th, I photographed the half day camp, ‘Passport Adventures’. The continents of topic that day were Asia and Australia. The children participated in various activities, learning about kangaroos, origami, bamboo, and the Sydney Opera House. One specific activity of the day that I thought was pretty neat was where the children could create their own Moai statues out of clay, and decorate it with beads and feathers.Image

On Thursday, July 25th, I had my community outreach portion of my internship; Each Young Ambassador must hold a children’s story-time at a local library in their area. I traveled to the Little Walnut Creek Branch Library here in Austin to read Abuela’s Weave by Omar S. Castaneda. Abuela’s Weave is the story of Esperanza, a young Guatemalan girl, and her grandmother who grow closer as they weave some special creations and then make a trip to the market in hopes of selling them. This story shows the importance of family pride and personal endurance, and introduces children to the culture of Guatemala through the eyes of little Esperanza.Image

In the latter half of the day, I traveled back to the Austin Children’s Museum to be the photographer for the Museum Career Ladder & Volunteer Appreciation party. MCL participants and volunteers brought their friends and families to show them what they do at the museum and to have some fun! MCL is a volunteer and employment readiness program that offers opportunities to Austin area teens (12-17 year olds) to engage in fun and meaningful work at the Austin Children’s Museum. This year, there were over 1,100 active volunteers at the Museum. The youngest volunteer is four and the oldest is sixty-six.Image

On Friday, July 26th, the full day campers took a trip to the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas at Austin. There, they toured the ceramics and painting studios, and learned about kilns and easels. They also visited visited the art galleries in the building.Image

Sadly, this is my last week at the Austin Children’s Museum. This four-week internship has truly been a great experience! Never having a job before, I was skeptical that I would not successfully fulfill what was expected of me…but at the conclusion of this month, I feel that I have done everything I’ve been asked to to my fullest potential. Throughout my internship, I have learned various skills, such as, time management, patience and team work. In a museum, there’s so much team work that goes into running a successful learning institution and I really do appreciate what every employee/volunteer at any museum does. Along with the Museum, I do believe that the most important skill we can give children is the ability to learn, and that the diversity and interactions among people from different backrounds enrich and strengthen our community. I am eternally grateful to have been selected as a Smithsonian Latino Center 2013 Young Ambassador, to have met many amazing individuals along the way, and to have been blessed with this amazing opportunity to work with the Austin Children’s Museum.Image

If you haven’t had the chance, check out my blog posts from the previous weeks of my internship!

1. http://blog.austinkids.org/2013/07/22/slc-young-ambassador-blog-week-1/

2. http://blog.austinkids.org/2013/07/22/slc-young-ambassador-blog-week-2/

3. http://blog.austinkids.org/2013/07/22/slc-young-ambassador-blog-week-3/





SLC Young Ambassador Blog: Week 3

22 07 2013

Hello, my name is Alana Zamora from San Marcos, Texas. This year, I was selected as a 2013 Smithsonian Latino Center Young Ambassador; Up to twenty-four graduating high school seniors are selected each year and are given the amazing opportunity to intern in a museum/cultural institution in their local community for four weeks. Currently, I am interning here at the Austin Children’s Museum. I will be posting weekly blog posts to describe my experience here at ACM, as well as, insights into the different summer camps that we offer at the Museum.

This week, I worked directly with children, ages 7-10, that were enrolled in the ‘smART’ full day summer camp program here at the Museum. For every full day camp, we go on daily field trips, experience innovative hands-on activities, and play in the Museum. This week, I photographed the camp’s field trips and activities, and in the latter half of each day, I worked upstairs in the office, filtering, editing and uploading photos that I had taken from the camps onto the Museum’s Flickr account.

On Monday, July 15th, we walked with the children to the Staar Building so they could view the mobile that is displayed upstairs. After that, we went back to the Children’s Museum and had the children create their own mobile out of a hanger, string and random recyclable items.Image

On Tuesday, July 16th, we took a field trip to MAKEatx, a membership-based workshop where individuals can pursue their diverse interests and activities independently and creatively. The workshop currently houses a powerful laser cutter capable of cutting, etching, and engraving a wide variety of materials, brand new computers with the latest design software, and ample work space. The campers had the opportunity to create their own design for a key-chain or magnet, and were able to watch the laser cutter create it right before their very own eyes!Image

On Wednesday, July 17th, we had an amazing tour at Blue Genie Art Industries. BGAI is a nationally recognized creative firm specializing in large scale commercial fabrication of three dimensional objects, monuments, exhibits, themed environments, and artist services. Some of their recent clients include Dell, PEZ Candy, Schlotsky’s, Whole Foods Market, Make a Wish Foundation and the Austin Children’s Museum!Image

On Wednesday, I also had the opportunity to photograph the Technology Camp for incoming 4th, 5th and 6th graders at the Museum’s off-site locations at Silicon Labs. The children were able to design games and create their own animations using Scratch, a computer programming language made for kids. The campers also created game controllers, and program sensors and motors to construct a Rube Goldberg Device.Image

On Thursday, July 18th, our daily field trip was to the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum. The garden is a natural oasis in South Austin dedicated to the work of 20th Century American sculptor Charles Umlauf. Umlauf’s sculptures range from detailed realism to lyrical abstractions. His materials are equally diverse, from the exotic woods and terra cotta or cast stone of his earlier pieces, to the rich bronzes and alabasters or luminous marbles of his prime. With equal facility, Umlauf sculpted family groups (particularly mothers and children), delightful animals, and religious and mythological figures.Image

On Friday, July 19th, we visited the AMOA-Arthouse. The museum provides rich environments for a wide range of audiences to investigate and experience excellence in contemporary art. The museum accomplishes this through innovative exhibitions, education, interpretative programs and direct access to the creative process. The current exhibit that we had a tour of was ‘Advanced Young Artists’. The displayed artworks were developed by artist-mentors and teens in partnership, resulting in either one unified piece of two individual works related through process and/or concept. One project from the exhibit was titled “The Identity Project”; This project consisted of wearable masks that the artist and their mentor created. Viewers were encouraged to choose a mask, step into the photo booth, and express themselves through physical gestures/poses. In interacting with the masks and producing an image, the viewer becomes a participant and a piece of live sculpture.Image

This week, I was very privileged to experience my first art camp! Although I was not a camper, I had fun being a Camp teacher and photographer. I love that the children are being exposed to all types of art mediums and that they are able to express themselves through various art forms. This week has been a very neat experience and it is something that I will never forget.

If you haven’t had the chance, check out my blog posts from the previous weeks of my internship!

  1. http://blog.austinkids.org/2013/07/22/slc-young-ambassador-blog-week-1/
  2. http://blog.austinkids.org/2013/07/22/slc-young-ambassador-blog-week-2/




SLC Young Ambassador Blog: Week 2

22 07 2013

Hello, my name is Alana Zamora from San Marcos, Texas. This year, I was selected as a 2013 Smithsonian Latino Center Young Ambassador; Up to twenty-four graduating high school seniors are selected each year and are given the amazing opportunity to intern in a museum/cultural institution in their local community for four weeks. Currently, I am interning here at the Austin Children’s Museum. I will be posting weekly blog posts to describe my journey here at ACM, as well as, insights into the different summer camps that we offer at the Museum.

This week, I helped lead the ‘Young Scientists’ half day summer camp program for children, ages 4-6. For every half day camp, we have story time, hands-on activities and free play in the Museum. I assisted in leading science and art activities, playing with the children in the Museum and supervising them throughout their time at the camp. At this week’s camp, I had the opportunity to prepare the activities for each day, so I was able to see how much work goes into organizing a camp. Also, I was able to give feedback in ways to improve the activities for next ‘Young Scientists’ camp.

On Monday, July 8th, the theme for the day was measurement. The children learned about time, weight, temperature and length. Some of the activities for that day were, measuring and weighing sand, taking the temperature of warm and cold water, and creating a clock. Another activity that we had the children do was draw a picture of what they think a scientist looks like.

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On Tuesday, July 9th, we learned about chemistry, reaction and slime. Camp leaders demonstrated baking soda experiments and helped the children create slime. The slime activity was very messy, but so much fun!Image

     On Wednesday, July 10th, the theme was color and magnification. Some activities that we had were, color mixing with paint, making a solar bead bracelet and Play-dough mixing. One of my favorite activities of the day was creating our own ‘rainbow’ using a flashlight and glass prism.Image

     On Thursday, July 11th, we learned about architecture and electricity. We had the children build houses out of wooden blocks and we had them create their own circuits.

     On Friday, July 12th, we learned about flying. The children learned about bats and made their own ‘bat hats’. They also created their own kite and roto-copter.

     Again, this week was amazing! I enjoy working with the children and watching them learn. Also, my fellow interns and volunteers are truly great individuals! I am amazed with all the learning that takes place during camp and I really do wish that I had the same opportunity at a younger age that all of these children are having now. Learning is fun!

     If you haven’t had the chance, check out my blog post from the first week of my internship!





SLC Young Ambassador Blog: Week 1

22 07 2013

     Hello, my name is Alana Zamora from San Marcos, Texas. This year, I was selected as a 2013 Smithsonian Latino Center Young Ambassador; Up to twenty-four graduating high school seniors are selected each year and are given the amazing opportunity to intern in a museum/cultural institution in their local community for four weeks. Currently, I am interning here at the Austin Children’s Museum. I will be posting weekly blog posts to describe my experience here at ACM, as well as, insights into the different summer camps that we offer at the Museum.Image

     This week, I worked directly with children, ages 7-10, that were enrolled in the ‘Inside Out’ full day summer camp program here at the Museum. For every full day camp, we go on daily field trips, experience innovative hands-on activities, and play in the Museum. This week, I assisted in leading science and art activities, played with the children in the museum and supervised them on the daily community field trips.

On Monday, July 1st, we took the children on a walk down to Lady Bird Lake, where we met with two students from the Department of Geological Sciences from The University of Texas at Austin. There, the two students directed the children, as well as myself and the other interns, on how to properly take water samples and how to measure the pH levels. We discussed with the children on what to do if the levels become harmful to the environment and how it can affect the community. When we returned to the Museum that afternoon, we led the children in an activity of designing boats, out of plastic containers and straws, that were durable enough to hold a few dollars worth in pennies.Image     On Tuesday, July 2nd, we took the children to the UT Department of Engineering. There, we met with two students, one studying to be a Chemical Engineer and the other to be a Mechanical Engineer. They instructed the children on how to create their own little ‘rocket’s made out of a straw and tape. After the field trip, we returned to the Museum and started our hands-on activities. I interacted with the children, asking them what they knew abut meteors and craters. Then, I led an activity where the children dropped different sized balls into a bucket of cocoa, and they had to measure the size of the ‘crater’ and describe what it looked like. In the next activity, we gave the children their own Styrofoam ball and they had the opportunity to color and create their own planet.

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On Wednesday, July 3rd, we took a field trip to the Goodwill Computer Museum. There, we all had a tour of the museum and learned the history of electronics. Since 1994, Goodwill started a collection of hardware, software, and documentation of recycled electronics. We also learned that Goodwill gives back to the community when you donate items to them; Some of the money that is made by Goodwill goes to helping their employees, as well as other community members, achieve their GED. When we returned to the Museum, we had two activities for the children to participate in: One was, taking apart computers and keyboards, and then putting them back together. The second one was, building their own circuits with circuit blocks and ‘alligator’ clips.

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     On Friday, July 5th, we took a field trip to Dell Children’s Hospital, where we were given a tour of the pediatrician’s office and of an operating room. We all learned how to take blood pressure, measure height and weight, perform an ultrasound scan, and how to prevent spreading germs. When we returned to the Children’s Museum, the other volunteers, interns and I led activities in dissecting owl pellets and how to create a lung model, using a water bottle and balloons.Image

Overall, this week has been amazing! The children are so bright and intelligent; I am confident that these individuals will become the strong leaders of our future. I am very excited for the weeks to come! I enjoy the diversity of the interns and campers; Everyone is so unique and there is definitely never a dull moment at camp. Between all of the tours and activities, I hope the children have learned as much as I have. I have never really been interested in science before, but after this week, I find it very engaging! I honestly wish I had attended a summer camp like this when I was younger.Image





Get Excited for Summer Camp

24 04 2013

The school year is almost over and that means it’s time for SUMMER CAMP. Have you made your plans yet?

We are gearing up for an awesome summer filled with new discoveries, fun activities and memorable field trips. This is the last year we’ll be hosting camp at our Museum downtown, so you don’t want to miss it.

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ACM offers half day camps for ages 4-6 and full day camps for ages 7-10 from May 28 – August 16. Full day camps include field trips all around the Austin area.  Camp topics range from science, engineering, art and more. Most of our half day camps are already filled, but there are plenty of spots left in full day camps.

This year, we are excited for our full day camp, “Get a Clue.” Together, we’ll investigate and gather evidence to discover the hidden mysteries around town. Field trips include an investigation at the Driskill Hotel where we’ll reveal the haunted history that lies behind the spooky walls, and a behind-the-scenes visit to the Austin Police Department where we’ll meet real investigators.

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Inside the Museum we’ll extract DNA, experiment with blood typing, solve riddles, decipher codes and navigate through a laser alarm system. At the end of the week, we’ll use our problem solving skills to solve an art heist.

Check out all of our camp topics and register online at austinkids.org/camps.aspx.





Extreme Planet: Compasses, Scavenger Hunts, and Shelter-Building!

17 07 2012

Last week at the Museum, our full day camp for 7- to 10-year-olds explored the ideas of “Extreme Planet!”

For the first day of camp, we talked about the different things that would classify as “Extreme Planet.”  Not only did we talk about the Earth, but we also talked about the Earth’s extremes: hurricanes, tornadoes, and extreme situations!

After talking about all of the extreme possibilities on Earth, we went on a scavenger hunt to find all of the essential, basic elements that we could use to build a shelter to protect us from inclement (or really bad) weather.

During our scavenger hunt, we followed clues that told us which directions to go in to find our next shelter-building material.  For this part of the hunt, we used a compass! Does everyone know how compasses work?

One of our campers holds the compass during our scavenger hunt!

A compass is essentially a magnet, which reacts to the magnetic field of Earth.  This means that across all of Earth there are magnetic waves that the magnet of a compass reacts to.  The magnet, also called the needle, of the compass has one end marked to show which direction is North.  The reason that the needle always points North is because the North Pole has the opposite charge of the needle in the compass.  You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: Opposites attract!!

Thus, the North Pole has a magnetic force that is opposite to the charge of the magnet in a compass, which draws the North tip of the needle towards the direction of the North Pole.

After finding all of our materials with the help of the compass, we came back to the Museum and built our best forts!

If you want to try to build a shelter to protect against harsh wind, rain, heat, or other extreme situations, just have a scavenger hunt of your own and collect all of these things:

- 1 card stock or thick piece of paper
– 1 plastic bag
– some tape
– 1 pair of scissors
– some string
– 5-10 skewers/sticks
– anything else you think would make a good shelter

Using any or all of these materials, try to build your own miniature shelter that can protect against extreme weather!  Share your photos if you’d like!

Here is what some of our campers came up with during camp!

Team Green went for a basic tent structure with their sticks and then later covered their shelter with the plastic bag to protect from the elements!

Team Blue built a shelter by curling their paper into a cone and covering it with the plastic bag to protect against rain and wind!

Team Red built a cube shape with their sticks and piece of paper before covering it all with their plastic bag to provide shelter from all of Earth’s extremes!





The Science of Juggling and Hula-hooping!

5 07 2012

Last week at the Museum, young boys and girls participated in our Secret Scientists camp.  On Tuesday, we had a field trip to Sky Candy, an aerial acrobatics company based here in Austin. At Sky Candy, two aerial artists, Danny and Winnie, told us about the science behind different parts of their work.

First, they talked about stretching and our bodies’ muscles.  Do you know the names of any muscles?  We talked about many different muscles and how stretching all of our muscles is important before any kind of exercise.

Here we stretched our triceps (the undersides of our arms).

Then, we talked about the science behind juggling. When you juggle, you are working with gravity.  When you throw the balls up into the air, you go against gravity.  Once the balls hit their peak, they no longer have any force against gravity and begin to fall with the force of gravity.

Trying to learn how to juggle!

After juggling with similar-sized balls, Danny, one of the aerial artists, asked if we thought that a larger ball would fall faster than a smaller one.  What do you think?

Danny with two different-sized juggling balls.

Because gravity works the same on every object, all objects fall at the same speed.  It’s only when an object has wind resistance that its speed may change.  This means that an open, flat piece of paper (which has a large surface that slows down its speed) falls slower than a bowling ball or a marble which fall at the same speed (because their shapes do not resist the force of their fall).

After juggling, Winnie talked to us about the hidden science behind hula-hoops.  When you hula-hoop, your body oscillates (moves from side to side).  This movement creates a force, which is called centripetal force, that acts upon the hoop.  Centripetal force is the force which carries an object (the hoop) on a curved path because of the force’s direction towards the center of the curved path. Thus, your hula-hoop rotates around you on a curved path because your body creates a force with its movement.

Here everyone took turns hula-hooping.

Who knew so much science was a part of aerial acrobats? Just by stretching and tossing a few balls in the air or playing with your hula-hoop at home, you can encounter scientific ideas about the muscles of your body, can see how gravity affects objects, and can create centripetal force.  Thanks to Winnie and Danny for teaching us all of this!!








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