Thursday, September 23, 2010

Museum of Flight; Support for Aviation Education

This article appeared in the July/August issue of "Aloft" a publication of Seattle's Museum of Flight.

The Museum of Flight is dedicated to serving learners of all ages. To maintain an “educational edge” Museum leadership depends on the thoughtful and enthusiastic input of the Educational Leaders Advisory Board or ELAB. Made up of educators, government and industry representatives, ELAB volunteers devote countless hours to the Museums educational programs and have played a valuable role in keeping the programs fresh and focused.

Michael and Jessica van Son, brother and sister, bring two very different perspectives to the ELAB and illustrate the type of talent volunteering their energy to the board.

Combining a business degree with a love of science Michael works as a metrologist with Lockheed Martin in Silverdale, Washington. In addition to his ten years on the ELAB he volunteers hundreds of hours with Kitsap County school science initiatives.

According to Seth Margolis, Director of Education Programs for the Museum, “Michael represents the aerospace/engineering industry on ELAB. He brings that big picture view point to the board. He understands how our programs intersect with the industry side of the education and guides us to consider their role in the larger field---that student experiences at the Museum are not simply static but that they lead into further discovery and inspiration to explore the STEM fields as careers.”

Jessica, a Longview area special education teacher, brings her students on an annual visit to the MOF. Four years ago she was encouraged to join the ELAB to bring her energy, interest in scientific education and understanding of special needs students to the Museum.

“As a teacher, Jessica brings a formal education perspective to ELAB,” said Margolis. “She can view our programs from the end-user side of the equation. She understand how they relate to the school system and what we need to do to ensure that they meet the scholastic needs of the audience while also being enjoyable, rigorous, and age appropriate. She allows us to hear directly from our constituents. Jessica has also been a Washington Aerospace Scholars residency program counselor for two years and thus is intimately involved in all of our programs.”

The most visible Museum volunteers are the docents who are present in the Museum everyday, interacting with visitors. The ELAB volunteers perform their service “behind-the-scenes” to insure the educational component of the Museum vision stays relevant for the regions life-long learners of all ages. Jessica and Michael are excellent examples of the quality and passion of the ELAB members.