Thinkery Volunteer Spotlight: Grace

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Each month the Thinkery blog highlights one of our amazing volunteers and their fantastic work at the Thinkery. This month we feature Grace, Program Manager at  Little Helping Hands and a Thinkery volunteer. Little Helping Hands is a nonprofit organization that facilitates family volunteering by creating and organizing monthly volunteer opportunities suitable for children. Below, Grace describes some of her favorite projects as a volunteer and some of her favorite reasons for volunteering here at the Thinkery. Thanks Grace for all your hard work, and thanks so much to Little Helping Hands for all they do!

Little Helping Hands started volunteering at the Austin Children’s Museum 3 years ago.  At first we would come on an as-needed basis and then we established a recurring monthly volunteer activity.  Each month we’d bring a group of 8 volunteers (children and their parents or adult caregivers) to the museum to help with a project.  We would clean, sort, assemble, test…the scope of the projects always amazed me.

Some of my favorite projects:

  • Using toothbrushes and soapy water to clean plastic dinosaurs:  Each child was given a toothbrush and a dish of soapy water and a dish of clean water.  We must have cleaned at least 100 plastic dinosaurs.  The children were singing while they worked, talking to the dinosaurs as they “gave them a bath.”  It was just the best!
  • Testing the markers and sharpening the pencils: Our group was given a huge bin of markers and some scrap paper and told to test the markers by scribbling on the paper.  The kids had such fun.  The ones that didn’t work were thrown away and the ones that did were kept.  Who could have thought testing markers could be so fun.  We were also given a big bin of pencils and some pencil sharpeners.  Again, the children brought a work ethic to this project that was incredible.  No adult would or could sharpen so many pencils with the focus and enthusiasm that these children did!
Drying toy fruit with Little Helping Hands!
Drying toy fruit with Little Helping Hands!

Some of my favorite moments:

  • Who says a two year old can’t volunteer?  Some of my most favorite moments volunteering at ACM/The Thinkery involve working with our youngest volunteers.  As you know, at our last activity, we had a 2 year old assist in cleaning the plastic fruits and vegetables.  At other activities in the past, we have had similarly young children volunteer to clean the dinosaurs, sort recycled materials for the Tinkerer’s Workshop, and sort Legos for the technology outreach program.  I love that The Thinkery is willing to engage Little Helping Hands volunteers of all ages.  It helps to teach children of all ages that they can be helpful and introduces them at a young age to the importance of giving something back to the community in which they live.  By partnering with Little Helping Hands and engaging our volunteers, The Thinkery is helping us grow the next generation of volunteers.

Why does LHH love volunteering at The Thinkery?

Little Helping Hands loves to support The Thinkery because we love the idea of kids helping kids.  Little Helping Hands is an organization that aims to engage young children and their families in community service.  By volunteering at The Thinkery, these children and families are helping other children in the community.  Plus, many of the Little Helping Hands families who volunteer at the The Thinkery also visit the museum as guests.  We love the idea of teaching children (and their parents and adult caregivers) that the museum is a resource for the entire community to enjoy but that it requires the support of the entire community to exist…even the support of the youngest community members who can be quite useful when trusted with age appropriate tasks.  I venture to say that many adults wouldn’t have cleaned the dinosaurs or sharpened the pencils as well as these children did.

The Thinkery is an amazing resource for Austin families.  I am especially excited about some of the new exhibitions that are geared towards slightly older children – for example the Spark Shop exhibit.  I also really love the Innovator’s Workshop, Currents and Light Lab.

Little Helping Hands is honored to support The Thinkery through its regular volunteer activities.  These volunteer activities are always fun and rewarding experiences!  They never feel like “work.”

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