A Spacey Saturday

Preceding my zooey Sunday was a spacey Saturday: a day spent volunteering at the National Air and Space Museum‘s family day with fellow volunteers from the organization One Brick.

The theme of the family day was African American Pioneers in Aviation, in honor of Black History Month.  My three years of volunteering with One Brick began at this same event in February 2008.

Me (in blue) helping kids make propellers. Photo by DennisL from One Brick

This particular event draws in visitors with its multitude of activities, from talks by the Tuskegee Airmen to several tables of children’s crafts (which is where we volunteers provide the bulk of our humanpower, interacting with children all day long), in addition to all the exhibits the museum has to offer every day.  Volunteering at this event in 2008, 2009, and 2011 has given me the chance to help kids make their own pilot licenses, badges, binoculars, and propellers.  The activities have many results: they allow kids to express themselves creatively, they demonstrate scientific principles, and they help tell the stories of the individuals who first broke the color barriers in the worlds of air and space.

I love volunteering with One Brick not only because its format is flexible and easy (you simply go to the calendar and RSVP for a particular event – no long-term commitment, which is helpful for busy people who nonetheless want to help their communities when they can), but also because of the variety of events we do and non-profits we serve.  I have sorted books, food, and clothes (not all at once) for those in need; other times, I have served samples of food to swankily dressed people at charity auctions.  One Brick has had me bathing dogs, cheering on runners, and even photographing dancers who engaged in a site-specific performance throughout Penn Quarter.  As our chapter’s newsletter writer, I get to promote our wide variety of events in biweekly emails to all our volunteers.

Despite all these choices, though, I find myself returning to NASM often, because I love the particular work their family days require.  I enjoy chatting with children and their parents as the little ones color and tell me about the symbols they’ve chosen for their badges or kites.  When I leave, I inevitably take home a craft I’ve made as a sample, along with some new scientific knowledge.



About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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