Last Tuesday, I co-facilitating an educator training in Chicago for Science Action Club, along with my colleague Andrew. I enjoyed getting to share our latest unit Birds in Your Schoolyard with 20 after school educators.
We worked hard to make it a fun training for them. They learned about and tested out the latest citizen science apps that make it easy for anyone to be an amateur birder and scientist. We led them on a bird count outside, where they discovered a dozen or so birds, despite the freezing rain coming down. And we had them facilitate several of the Birds activities for each other, to get direct experience with running our curriculum with students.
They left quite happy and prepared to run Birds in Your Schoolyard with their youth.
Andrew and I then had about an hour to run around the incredible Museum of Science and Industry, our host for the training. MSI is fantastic museum, in the city full of great museums and other arts and cultural centers.
We spent most of our time exploring the U-505 exhibit, a captured German submarine from World War II. When I saw the submarine in the museum guide, I assumed it was some kind of virtual experience, or maybe a smaller re-creation of the submarine. Nope. It's the entire vessel, mounted in the lower level of the museum.
Not only do you learn about the history of the sub, how it operated, and how it was captured, you actually can go inside it, and see how the 50-person crew lived.
It's a very unglamorous portrayal of life in a sub. You get a strong sense of the claustrophobic, uncomfortable, hot, and danger existence the sailors endured during their service. I can't imagine how you kept yourself from going insane down there, honestly. Apparently some people actually did go nuts on board.
We also spent a few minutes meandering around the beautifully done mirror maze. There's some interesting scientific content embedded in the maze, but honestly it's just a cool experience.
One of the most impressive parts of the MSI is just the scale of it. There are massive hallways with suspended airliners, locomotives, a simulated coal mine, and much more. MSI has the "awe" part of museum experience on lock. I would love to come back and spend a day there.