Hello! My name is Lill Lawrence-Paine and I am a rising junior at Whitman College. My major is Environmental Studies-Geology and this summer I have an internship with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, OR. My intern position is called the “Earth Science Education Internship” and I am going to take you through what a typical day working as an educator at OMSI looks like.
My day begins when I arrive to work at 9am following a beautiful bike ride along the Willamette River which invigorates me for the day ahead. First thing I do when I get to OMSI is head to the morning staff meeting where we discuss what things are happening for that particular day and make sure that each department is fully staffed. This morning meeting has been a really great way for me to meet educators and interns from all the different fields that make up OMSI’s fun and interactive museum.
Following the meeting I leave with my supervisor, the “Earth Science Coordinator” to begin our individual tasks for the day. On a typical day we would have summer classes in the morning. These classes usually consist of kids ages kindergarten through fifth grade and cover a range of topics including the solar system, fossils, and climate change. In these classes we engage with the kids through fun interactive activities which are geared specifically to their learning level. The classes I’ve helped lead have been great experiences. It’s amazing to see what educators at OMSI call the “aha moment,” when what you’ve been teaching the kids suddenly clicks and they start to form important connections. To be a part of these moments has been extremely rewarding and my experiences have helped me learn how to gear my teaching strategies to the specific age group and group of kids in general. I’ve learned how important flexibility is in teaching practices and believe I can take my educating experience at OMSI and apply it to any future teaching scenarios.
Once the classes are wrapped up and we’ve cleaned up the activities I’ll usually take my lunch break. For lunch I am allotted half an hour for lunch and then an additional thirty minutes of breaks for the rest of the day. I like to combine my breaks together and take a long lunch so I can read by the river. This time to myself in the middle of the work day has really helped me decompress before the afternoon. In the afternoon I’ll usually be in the paleontology lab. During this time I’m interacting with museum visitors and helping facilitate learning experiences with our interactive exhibits. These learning experiences are usually started by me showing guests my favorite exhibits, such as the concretion that has been x-rayed and shown to have a dolphin skull inside of it. My main goal is to get guests, especially younger visitors excited about this field and curious about the possibilities within it. I’ve loved my time at OMSI thus far and am extremely excited for everything else that is to come!
Experiences like Lill’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff