Whitworthians in Washington
Nine students from Whitworth University, a private, liberal arts institution located in Spokane, Washington, are spending the month of January interning across the Smithsonian Institution. Representing a range of majors, the junior and senior students are placed at locations such as the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH), Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden (HMSG), and National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).
Junior history education major Emily Leinweber is placed at the National Postal Museum (NPM) where she is working on classroom resource development. These resources have not been updated to new standards or edited to be helpful and engaging for teachers. The Victory Mail Online Exhibit, for example, has classroom lessons that are limited and not up to date for the modern classroom. “I am adding standards to the few existing lessons to make them more helpful to teachers so they know what they are meeting. I am also creating more lessons and activities that are more interactive, hands-on, and serve an educational purpose. All current lessons are for social studies and language arts, so I am adding math and science activities as well,” Emily said.
Senior physics major Hayden Wisniewski is interning at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) and is developing a new challenge for the Design Hanger in the How Things Fly interactive exhibit. One of his most memorable moments from his first week at NASM was when he got to hold a Canyon Diablo meteorite. “I’ve been to Meteor Crater, Arizona, where that meteorite is from, and it was amazing to hold a rock with so much scientific importance concerning our understanding of our solar system and how heavenly objects cool when our solar system was young. You could actually see cooling lines from the meteorite’s formation. It was pretty sweet,” Hayden said.
At the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden (HMSG), senior sociology major Sarah Dixit is working as an Education Assitant, which involves helping out the Education Department with early childhood programming through tasks such as conducting research for potential community partners and facilitating story time.
One of Sarah’s tasks is to test run a new children’s program called “Check it Out.” This program partners with Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL) and provides a kit with a storybook, relevant art activity, and suggested artworks in the museum to view. “Our goal is to provide caregivers with young children a chance to feel comfortable in theg alleries and help the kids interact with art at a young age,” Sarah said.
While in D.C., Whitworth interns have also visited various monuments and museums, taken trips out to Mount Vernon and the Pentagon, met up with various alumni, and braved the cold from the bomb cyclone.