By Kelsey Ablitt, Education and Engagement Assistant, Summer 2016
Its almost difficult to grasp that my time at the museum is coming to an end in just two short weeks. These past few months have been filled with new experiences and a lot of learning. I learned about the work that goes into running a museum, how to research at the archives, what education at a museum looks like, that elastic bands can be kept in the fridge and the best way to get a dew worm to move in a race.
One of my biggest projects this summer was to revamp the Discovery Bins. These bins were designed to be themed and filled with interactive things for children to play with. Initially, I didn’t think that sprucing up these bins would take nearly as much time or work as they ended up taking. As I took a look at the different material in them, I found myself coming up with new themes to organize them into, different artifacts to add to them and new interactive worksheets to make for them. This was easily my biggest and most time consuming task of the summer, however I can’t help but feel accomplished when I see kids enjoying the history and artifacts that the bins provide. Redoing these bins taught me about how things that may seem simple, actually had a lot of hard work put into them. Not only did I have to make sure my facts were correct and my themes relevant, I also had to constantly consider if they were kid friendly and that means being accessible to a wide age group. This means including things that toddlers or children just learning to read can interact with as well as something a bit more in-depth that will interest older children.
Another important aspect of my position this summer was helping with the different outreach events. Our main outreach event was Party in the Park, every Friday night in July. My job was to plan a craft for kids to do when they stopped by our booth. I desired to make the crafts relevant to the history of Chilliwack as much as I could. To do so, I chose a different theme from Chilliwack’s history to focus on for each Friday. To help share the historical love even more, I created a poster full of images and facts on the themes. I found these posters to be quite useful when kids were busy doing the crafts, as it gave parents something to read. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from outreach, its that your crafts need to be interesting but quick. There are usually lots to see and do at events like Party in the Park, therefore not only do the kids have a shorter attention span, their parent also does not want to be at the same booth for a long period of time.
In between the major tasks of this summer, my time was filled with many other little projects. I was able to sit in on meetings, give my input on the various goings on in the museum, help with school programs and much more. There was never a dull moment, I was always learning something new about the history of Chilliwack or what it takes to get a printer to print what you want (and in a timely fashion). Despite how thankful I am for all the things I have learned and the level of accomplishment I felt when finishing projects, my favourite part of the whole summer was the new friendships I have gained. The museum is filled with so many colourful and caring people, from the staff to the volunteers. I have loved getting to know the volunteers and seeing their interest in Chilliwack’s history. I have loved being able to get to know the staff and learn of the amazing things they have accomplished and all the exciting ideas they have for the museum, they are all extremely inspiring people. However, I cannot help being extremely thankful for Stephanie, she taught me something new nearly everyday and constantly encouraged me. She gave me freedom with creativity, she was extremely patient with me and was always there to give helpful input. The experience that Stephanie and the museum has provided me is something I will always be grateful for and I cannot wait to put what I have learned to use in the future.