Smithsonian Latino Center

Taking a Walk on the “Science” Side of Life

Young Ambassador, Mia Cooper and her supervisor Cathy posing with the cast of the superhero show
Young Ambassador, Mia Cooper and her supervisor Cathy posing with the cast of the superhero show "Power Up!" Courtesy of the Children’s Museum of Houston.

Taking a walk on the “Science” side of life as an intern at The Children’s Museum of Houston has taught me a lot, given that I am not a science-y type of person. The most important lesson I have learned so far is this: anyone can be a scientist, as I so often explained to our little scientists in the power science lab.

At first, those words felt a little bit foreign in my mouth. I felt like a hypocrite, especially when I think about how I am majoring in journalism and a liberal arts honors program. I am not passionate about science, and yet throughout the last three weeks of my internship it was inspiring to interact with hundreds of kids who, by the end of the experiment, were exclaiming, “I want to be a scientist when I grow up!”

One of my supervisors, Cathy, took me over to see the superhero show she puts on for our visitors in the auditorium. It’s a cute 15 minute show called “Power up!” which teaches the kids about the 5 superhero traits that anyone can use to be a hero. As cheesy as it sounds, watching all the kids light up when being told that they too can be superheroes was the exact same look they get when they say they want to be a scientist.

I came to realize that moment is what I am really passionate about. That moment of a bright and untainted exclamation of learning, a spark of curiosity and understanding that I get to witness
in the kids who visit the museum. I think we need more of that in the world. Especially more spaces and opportunities like those The Children’s Museum offers to get kids excited about learning using engaging games and activities.

I have to give a special shout out to Alleigh and Cathy (my supervisors), for helping me find ways to pursue my own interests here at the museum. At the end of the last week of my internship, Cathy told me she had gotten me a little assignment from the P.R. department to write an article on the superhero show, just so I could have something to do in the realm of journalism/communications. This was such a sweet gesture and a great opportunity because the article was be featured in the museum’s newsletter.

I attended both showings of “Power Up!” and interviewed families who had come to see the show more than once this summer. I asked them what they liked about the show, who their favorite hero is, and what it means to the kids to hear ‘hey, you can be a hero too!’ I continued to interview the next day, and then sat down to write my first draft. Cathy took it home to edit that night, and came back the next day telling me that it was perfect and exactly what she wanted (after a few grammatical corrections and such.)

Here is a little excerpt:

The show follows the story of the Kid, Lydia, who takes the place of Power House, Houston’s greatest hero, and becomes a hero for the day herself. Through the challenges and tribulations of being a hero and thwarting Mayhem’s villainous plans, Lydia must use the five heroic traits:

1. Confidence

2. Determination

3. Creativity

4. Patience

5. Empathy

The greatest lesson we can all take from the show is knowing that anyone can be a superhero, as Lydia discovered for herself. Mom of two and frequent museum visitor Elizabeth Murphy has brought her kids to see the show more than 15 times this summer, as she enjoys watching them grow from the lessons the show teaches.

“They are very creative,” said Murphy. “They love the show and after seeing the show, I can definitely see a little bit more empathy when they play with each other.”

The Weaver family came to see the show for a second time, and brothers Will (12) and Nathan (9) had similar takeaways on the value and importance of the five heroic traits. As older kids in the audience, the lessons for Will and Nathan seems to lie not in how to be a superhero but how they’re already superheroes, and what they can do to be better heroes.

“I learned about the heroic traits,” said Will. “And well, I probably have to improve on patience most.” Nathan echoed his brother saying, “I’m good with confidence, but patience isn’t really my strong suit.”

It was really touching that Cathy went out of her way to get me an assignment where I could truly shine, and to be able to get real world experience in what I want to pursue in college.

I am sad it was over so soon, but with this internship under my belt, I am confident I will be going on to do great things!

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