Though not as common as "how do you eat?" and "where do you go to the bathroom?", a question that I receive at least once a day is "why are you here?" It's a completely valid question and actually one that I occasionally ask myself. In other words: what do I want to accomplish during my time here? While I thought I knew the answer from the start, I think it's taken me a couple of weeks to really focus in on my motivation.
My take on MATM is this: an average visitor comes to MSI and has a few hours to spend hustling around to see as much as they can; it's impossible to see and do it all. So, what could someone do with 30 days? Could they see and do everything? We'll see, right? But really, it's more than just checking exhibits off the list. What's more significant is the impact of the visit. Nearly 30 years have passed since I first visited a science museum and I still remember it. I can't tell you the details of what I saw or did, but I know I loved it. I'm not sure exactly how it changed my opinion of science but I know I grew up thinking science is cool and I'm confident that my visit that day helped to support the notion.
Fast forward 29 years. I'm living in a science museum, experiencing the exhibits and demonstrations, meeting guests, posting on Facebook and passing out silly bands. What's the point? The point it this: I hope to contribute to that "science is cool" mentality. If a kid remembers that she saw an indoor tornado, baby chicks and some weirdo that was really excited about living inside MSI, then I've done my job. But even if she couldn't tell you about the tornado or the museum guy but instead took with her a feeling of "that place was neat" or "science is cool" - mission still accomplished.
The vision of MSI is "to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in the fields of science, technology, engineering and medicine." If that's passing biology class, then so be it. If it's becoming a physicist, that's great too. It's all about inspiration and motivation. I don't think it's possible to leave without feeling inspired. The staff is enthusiastic and knowledgable, the exhibits are engaging and I could watch Pumpkin Pyrotechnics three times a day. They don't need me but I appreciate the opportunity to chip-in some small way.
Personally, I'd like to remind myself to be inquisitive, to learn new things and take on big challenges. Adults rarely have the opportunity to dive headfirst into something they love, and I'm working hard to make the the most of it. The measure of my success is a difficult one but I hope the feeling that I have upon leaving this place is one of excitement, wonder and a willingness to step out of my comfort zone to always try new things. Oh- and world peace. Don't forget about world peace. <<Cue Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All">> Okay- I got a little carried away there. But in all sincerity, this is more than a publicity stunt or a social experiment to me. It's about science, inspiring kids and contributing to MSI's vision. Science is cool and I intend to prove it.
Wait; what? You're still reading? How kind of you. I know, I know. It was a little heavier than usual. But as a bonus for scrolling down this far, here are a few random photos.
This little thimble-of-a-helmet can't handle my giant gourd. Representin' all the plus-sized noggins out there. ("Hi" Day; she's on the left)
Did someone say gourds?!?
Santa's come early. Actually, this chair is used on a daily basis by a fellow in the design department. So jealous.
Tim, Mr. Chick Hatchery himself, is growing solefood. Get it?!? Hardy-har-har.
With the Ferris wheel behind me, I kind of look like some sort of Mayan robot sun god.
And that's that. Check out Facebook for even more randoms.
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A digital marketing analyst from Chicago, Kevin is living inside the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere for 30 days.
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