This blog post was composed by Katrina L. Gallegos, a Summer 2022 Dowdy Intern and a master’s student in the Museum Studies program.
This summer, I had the honor of being a Dowdy Endowed Intern with the W. R. Poage Legislative Library. During my appointment, I was tasked with being the project manager for Poage’s participation in iEngage, a civics day camp for children aged 10-15. As I sit and reflect, it is the eve of autumn and I realize that summer, like camp, went by too fast and I want to go back.
The responsibilities of being a project manager were both rewarding and daunting. I was given the freedom to flex my creativity which is something I always crave. On the other side of this freedom is the reality of responsibility, time management, and practicality. I am proud to say I accepted the challenge and created a product I am proud of.
iEngage at Poage is a collaboration with Baylor’s School of Education which itself is in partnership with the national iCivics program. Before I began creating content, I met with the School of Education’s iEngage administrators and discussed their wants and needs for this day of civics education. We discussed everything from content themes to schedules. With this information in hand, I began crafting a day’s worth of informal educational activities.
So, where does one start when tasked with creating a day’s worth of informal learning activities for 96 young student scholars? The stacks of course. For the first two weeks of my internship, I meandered through the closed stacks of Poage and the open stacks of Moody-Jones looking for primary and secondary materials which could help me facilitate learning. I should note that this meandering wasn’t aimless. I used BARD (Baylor Archival Repositories Database) to access Poage’s finding aids and Baylor Libraries’ OneSearch. After finding numerous resources, I spent time checking out books and pulling folders out of boxes. At one point, my desk was covered in books, folders, boxes and looked a right mess. After trimming down this initial selection, the next step was content creation.
The knowledge I gained from courses such as Museum Education greatly aided me during this phase of my internship. I utilized tools from Harvard’s Project Zero website which provided me with tailorable activity templates. This robust resource also provided theoretical learning principles which I included in my lesson plan sheets for facilitators. The stations and activities I decided on were, playing modified Monopoly as a means of teaching about redlining; creating a “gallery” of WWII-era posters and having students reflect and describe them from a 21st Century lens; a constituent letter reading and discussion station; and a welcome to camp station. During this time, I also created activity schedules, camper workbooks, postcards, and other camp swag. There was also a lot of collaboration happening with my colleagues at Poage. We workshopped each activity station several times for flow of time and content. We also played modified Monopoly more times than I can count.
The day of iEngage arrived, and I was nervous but pumped. To be honest, when it was over, I felt like it had gone by too fast and wished we could have had more time. The young scholars in Waco are smart, eager, self-aware and curious. One camper I met asked me many questions about Poage Library and asked what the oldest item in the collection was. We taught 96 students about civics at the intersection of social engagement. This internship affirmed my appreciation for informal education, and I learned a lot. I will take the memories of this experience with me moving forward and apply its teachings during my career.