Each month this blog highlights one of our amazing volunteers and their fantastic work at the Thinkery. This month’s we interviewed Melanie, our Fall 2013 Education intern. Melanie is a 5th year Chemical Engineering major at UT Austin, and also working on getting her teaching certificate through UTeach (UTeach started at The University of Texas at Austin in 1997 as a new way to prepare secondary teachers in STEM fields). She’s been a tremendous part of the Thinkery team this semester.
Why did you want to intern at the Thinkery?
I volunteered at the Austin Children’s Museum through UT engineering events and loved it. I didn’t realize that the Austin Children’s Museum was transitioning to the Thinkery until this internship popped into my radar, but whenever I saw it, I jumped on the opportunity. I just thought it would be such a fun and happy experience, and it has been! It’s an especially exciting (and hectic) time for the museum since we’re moving to this beautiful new space.
What is your favorite exhibit/program of the museum and why?
Currents! Water exhibits at science centers are always fun, but what I really like about Currents is how it incorporates music. You can manipulate the water at different parts of the exhibit to create higher/lower pitches and really cool timbres. The exhibit also helps visualize the science behind the sounds, from the vibrations in the water to the different shapes of the instruments. As an engineer and a musician, I really appreciate the connection between science and music. Both music and engineering rely not only on math and science but also on creativity and expression.
What has been your best moment at the museum?
I’ve really enjoyed working and volunteering at different events, but I think my best moment at the Thinkery will be finally seeing it open! At the old museum, whenever I would volunteer with my student organization, we would make sound sandwiches (http://www.exploratorium.edu/afterschool/activities/index.php?activity=137) with kids. This was always a really fun and noisy learning activity with strong connections to music, science, and engineering. I felt bad for the parents though, especially when they had a long drive home.
What is the best story you have about working with our visitors?
Since there have been no children and families at the new museum yet, my favorite visitors so far have been Jared Padalecki and a monkey. They will be instantly replaced whenever the Thinkery opens on December 7th to real visitors.
How has your work here influenced your life?
In general, my work here has reaffirmed my passion for education. Since I’ve been trying to explore different paths within education, this internship in museum education has been really eye-opening. I appreciate more the impact of STEAM education outside of the classroom, and hope that a museum experience can spark a child’s life-long passion for STEAM.
What is something in your life that that you LOVE?
I love everything to do with food–eating, cooking, baking, dining, etc. Austin is a great place for a foodie like me, with all the eclectic food trucks, fine dining, and cheap groceries. If we all need to eat anyway, might as well make the most out of it! Besides food, I love music, teaching, traveling, photography, and of course, friends and family.
What is your all-time favorite thing to do on your time off?
When I get the chance, I love to travel. I get energized by new and unfamiliar experiences, and there’s just so much to see, learn, and do all over the world.
Thanks Melanie for all your hard work here at the Thinkery! If you’re interested in interning at the Thinkery, applications are currently open for Spring 2014.