Where the kids play to learn and the adults learn to play! | St. Lawrence University Career Connections

Where the kids play to learn and the adults learn to play!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

After many long talks with my academic advisor at St. Lawrence University, she suggested that a great way to combine my academic interests and my personal strengths would be working at a museum. Fast forward a few months, and here I am, two weeks into my SLU PIC internship at the North Country Children’s Museum in Potsdam, New York. What a great fit! The employees and other interns, part and fulltime, make the environment and atmosphere welcoming, creative, and stimulating even before the kids arrive for the day, which makes my job easy and enjoyable. I have found there is an immense amount of trust and creativity that foster the wonderful environment with the staff. I am encouraged to always be brainstorming ideas and interacting with the kids. I am treated with the same respect that the full time employees get, and the kids look up to me just the same, which is a pretty magical feeling. Previously a traveling “Museum Without Walls,” this interactive and inspiring museum has brought in over 15,000 visitors in the first year alone. With over 600 active members and school groups and summer programs ramping up, the museum is a bustling place. 

In my first two weeks at NCCM, I have been leading and overseeing hands-on “pop up” activities with the kids, which are our rotating daily art and science exhibits. We have done a bridge-building pop up, a stained glass pop up, a button-making pop up, and a Van de Graf pop up, just to name a few. This gives the kids a chance to test their knowledge and learn more, which is a great thing to see daily. On top of the changing pop ups, when school groups come, we have classroom activities where more comprehensive learning takes place. I have had the pleasure of sitting in and assisting in a few of these hour long sessions, and I have great examples to model my end of the summer project on. 

The museum has many components and sections to it that entertain and stimulate the children. A popular area is the Food Co-Op, where they get the chance to shop like a grown up! Mini shopping carts, realistic produce and canned goods, and a cash register entertain children for hours. They learn the importance of communication, as there can be many shoppers in the Co-Op at one time, they learn to count the change at the register, and they learn what healthy fruits and vegetables can do for a growing child! Another popular draw this museum has is its simulation Raquette River. This big machine has over ten ways to entertain, with different rapids, sailboats, fish, dams, and waterfalls to keep all ages interested—but be sure to wear your smock around the water table, or you WILL get splashed!

What I like most about my time so far with NCCM staff is their attention to the fact that different children learn at different paces and in different ways. This hands-on museum allows the children to be free to unleash their creativity and interest in STEAM topics. We work hard to keep the exhibits fresh and new and something that interests ages 0-12!