Note: The author of today’s blog post, Lizza, is a participant of our Museum Career Ladder, a youth volunteer and employment readiness program offering opportunities for teenagers to engage in fun and meaningful work at the Thinkery preparing them for future endeavors. Thanks Lizza for all your hard work!
When I first found out the Thinkery would be stationed at a number of Austin’s Farmer’s Markets after Austin Children’s Museum (ACM) closed and before the Thinkery opens December 7th, I felt a bundle of excitement and nerves rest in my stomach. The excitement was due to the opportunity to work with the community directly, and nerves because it was also an opportunity to establish the first impression of the Thinkery to the public.
Thus my weekends began early in the morning with a couple of my co-workers as we set up a vendor’s tent, put out our trusty flyers and trademark Thinkery shades, and then prepared the activity we would facilitate for the children that day. The first hour would go by slowly until the sun reached mid-sky and a bundle of families and couples would come bustling through the trails in hopes of tasting rich coffee and buying the best organic greens the market could offer. To those unfamiliar with the Thinkery, we may not have been the go-to tent on first sight- maybe we seemed like the type of tent to sell a new-to-the-business gadget, but once our circuit blocks or button making machine came into view, curiosity filled the kids and parents were guided over to meet us.
As one of the other staff members shared the news of the Thinkery- “We were formerly the Austin Children’s Museum but we moved to the Mueller development off of Airport Boulevard…”- the rest of us began explaining the science behind chromatography and its usage either in the setting of forensic labs or right there on the table with coffee filters, rubbing alcohol, and Sharpies. Some of the children would be familiar with the activity because they had seen it at the Austin Children’s Museum, but the others would be astounded and eager to explore more of the colors and the designs they could create. It was an interesting experience to say the least!
We just wrapped up our time at the Farmers Market, and each week the vibe was great; people were interested in who we are, the other vendors were very welcoming, and the children had a swell time either learning and participating in all our weekly activities.
Some of these kids had never heard of ACM but as soon as they were finished with the activity we had to offer, they wanted to visit the Thinkery immediately. We’re not open until December 7th, but it’s been great to work with kids at the Farmer’s Markets!