Presenting on

the public floor

from museum observer to
exhibit interpreter

how it began

Pictured above is me, at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in August of 2018, waving my arms in front of an exhibit about human evolution. Earlier that summer, I learned a sequence of choreography to a song mentioning the bigger brains, symbolic thinking, and other attributes of human species that emerged more and more as time progressed. 

This dance was taught to me by youth volunteers at the California Academy of Sciences. I had been one of the cohort a year prior, during my senior year of high school, and I returned as a program assistant in the summer of 2018 to help pass on knowledge I had gained through my own experiences as one of the Teen Advocates for Science Communication (TASC for short). 

In my own TASC days, I spent Saturday afternoons out on the public floor of the aquarium-museum, talking with visitors about butterflies, octopuses, and more. Our goal was to interact with visitors to encourage engagement with exhibits and science; to do this, we developed games, activities, and animal interpretation plans. The aforementioned dance (among other choreography sequences) came into play when our group of youth volunteers would begin a flash mob near where the albino alligator lay on the heated rock in his enclosure.

When I returned as a program assistant, I discovered that I loved teaching not only on the public floor, but also in more classroom-like settings with the TASC volunteers as we ran through content and activity plans. We also spent the summer putting together a free event for hundreds of youths around the Bay Area, Teen Science Night, where we brought in youths from various other science, art, and education organizations around the Bay Area. When I wasn't teaching science or running volunteering logistics, I helped direct our graphics and marketing teams for the event!

 

what came next

- college + immediately joining birch aquarium as a volunteer to keep in touch with presentation and informal science education

- COSIA learning and reflecting on my previous experiences and how i can be a more intentional communicator moving forward

 

© 2023 by Arya Natarajan

Website design powered by cold brew, chocolate-covered cherries, & Anderson .Paak's Malibu