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 ‘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. 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.
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.
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.
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.