All In One

Recently, at the Sloan Museum and Planetarium, new exhibits have been bringing in quite a few visitors. I seem to have been granted an “all in one” learning experience for my Internship this Fall 2013. Since my last post, I have been able to see the inner workings of what most of us (who have only seen the outside) think about when we think about what it takes to run a museum.

For example, when I was a child, I remember going to the Planetarium on school field trips, but to only watch the laser show about the stars and planets. Now, children who venture to Flint’s Cultural Center have a chance to take part in both the Museum and Planetarium in one day. I am now viewing this adventure from the inside, and am able to understand a lot about the type of coordination it takes to make things run smoothly and efficiently for all parties. By all parties, I mean the museum and Planetarium staff, the teachers, the students, the parents, the bus drivers, and even the guests who are not attached to any tour group. If every person is not in their position ready to teach kids in one of many classrooms, lead them on a tour to see the dinosaurs, or to make sure their lunches don’t get ruined, everyone’s day could go horribly wrong.

Besides learning the inner-workings of a museum, I also have my event in January to work on. Right now, it’s not going as well as I had planned, but everyone keeps telling me there is nothing I can do to hurry the processes up, but I am trying my best not to get too stressed. I am currently in the middle of finding some local, Flint related Middle-Eastern restaurants with reputable recognition for the food portion of the event, but am having trouble with my other student interns in deciding what should be served.

So far at the Sloan!

I must say, I really enjoy what I am doing here at the Sloan Museum in Flint, MI. Only a month has gone by and I already feel as if I have known everyone here forever. The faculty treats me with respect, and is willing to help me learn anything I am curious about. This is very relieving because as it happens, I have tons of questions and have already asked a ton.

I am working very closely with Loel Murphy and Laurie Bones. They are responsible for making sure programs related to the children of the area go as planned. These programs include everything from laser shows, school field trips, sleep-overs (at Planetarium), and demonstration classes. I have been fortunate to help out with a few of these programs, especially the science demonstration classes presented by Laurie. My duties involved:

  • Passing out materials needed to the children
  • Helping children understand the project¬†(answering questions)
  • Laughing at Lauri’s jokes
  • Cleaning up after the demonstration, and setting up the next one.

My primary objective here at Sloan is to work with Dr. Hani Bawardi and Mona Sahouri of the Arabic American Heritage Society (AAHS) in creating an educational, and informative museum exhibit to be displayed in January, as part of Dr. Henthorn’s Wyatt Exploration Program of Flint’s new discovery of itself. Right now I have contacted both Bawardi and Sahouri and have completed the procedure of introducing myself, and what is expected of them, in order to continue. I will be meeting with Mona Sahouri on October 10th to meet her interns, and will be further informed on how to continue with getting this thing moving. Dr. Bawardi, our guest speaker for this event will be providing information on the archives Heather Moore (Buick Gallery) will be displaying and setting up. Since he pretty much confirmed that we will not be receiving the list we need (which includes dimensions, value, and descriptions of each item) until November, my job as a the main contact between the faculty members and the members of the AAHS has been put at a standstill. After talking with Heather, Loel, and Laurie, they have instructed me that this happens quite often when dealing with customers. They told me to pretty much just wait for the list, and then we can move on from there.

A lot of what I am doing here at the Planetarium  involves (thankfully) skills that I have already obtained in other places that I have worked, such as: Communicating well with others in a clear tone, Being friendly and courteous to others and their opinions, and most of all, and most importantly, working in a fast, yet efficient manner. I have also been told in the past that I have good ideas when it comes to creating new things, and I am glad to be able to use that skill here. To me, when working on projects that require the use of strange materials tediously, nothing is more important than to learn how to quickly and efficiently use them. For example, my first day at the internship I was put to the task of creating Gravity Cups, which involve melting strings to cups, so that they can stand centrifugal force when swung around. The job was very tedious and time consuming, and involved using a candle, scissors and a lot of physical strength to keep the string from coming apart before its melted. As soon as I started, I quickly realized that the way they were putting the cups together (by cutting one string at a time and then tying it to the cup, and then melting it, and then repeating this process four times per cup!) in the past took way too much time. I analyzed the materials, and quickly realized that it could be done in half the time, with a lighter, and a needle-nosed plier. Instead of taking ten minutes per cup, it only took me 4-5 minutes. This was also because I cut multiple, same-sized pieces of string first. After a few days, I was asked how I did it, and was able to demonstrate to a few people exactly how i did it.  This is what I really like about this place.