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From the Classroom to the Moon!

Cultural Fieldwork Initiative Intern 2020 - Education Programs Department

A large piece of last semester’s puzzle for me was doing field work with a cultural organization. While studying Secondary Education and History at Temple University in the Fall of 2020, I took Tim Patterson’s “Methods and Materials for Secondary Social Studies Education” class. This class highlights an array of concepts and methods for teaching students unique histories; we also prepared introduction videos of ourselves to prove to an organization of our choosing that we were a solid internship candidate for this opportunity! After waiting on our match decisions, I officially paired with the American Philosophical Society’s Library & Museum. Throughout the Fall 2020 semester, I had the pleasure of working as the Cultural Fieldwork Initiative Intern with Head of Education Programs, Mike Madeja, and Museum Education Coordinator, Ali Rospond, in the Library & Museum’s Education Programs Department.

There were many reasons why I chose the APS—one being that it is the oldest scholarly society in the country, founded by the famous Benjamin Franklin! I immediately knew that this was going to be an enriching educational experience, especially considering the Society’s extremely old and unique holdings. Once I was chosen to work with Mike and Ali, I became enamored with the broad range of information, artifacts, and exclusive exhibitions the APS has to offer. From Franklin’s early inventions to rare primary source documents from the Cold War era, the scientific history relayed throughout the Society only scratches the surface of extensive knowledge in American and world histories.

During my internship, I worked on the Color Our Collections project and also helped Mike and Ali to develop an educational rubric—a guideline and accountability measure for Educations Programs staff. Working on the Highlight videos required me to research American Bison and the Moon Landing. This research was done using APS archives and databases, along with reliable government sponsored websites. The research on the American Bison will be used for a future highlight but the Moon Landing research led to the culmination of my internship with the APS: my own Highlight video! 

To end my time with the American Philosophical Society, I created a narration, coloring, and video recorded lesson on the Moon Landing and the Cold War effects of this time period. The Color Our Collections Highlight video was especially important because it aims to engage students in areas of study such as the Cold War, the Moon Landing, NASA, and the duels between the USA and the USSR. Students can listen to a historical narration on the topic while having fun coloring in the astronaut depicted on the moon on the coloring page! The videos ultimately support students who engage in content more creatively and visually to connect with the virtual lessons.

Overall, I could not have asked for a better field work experience. At the APS, I not only learned a lot about history and the Society’s rich background, but I also found out a lot about myself. When first starting with APS, I was so nervous to present myself in such a serious and professional setting—it is the nation’s first learned society! I was hesitant that I would not succeed to the best of my abilities or I would let down my hosts. All of these worries dissipated when I was paired with Mike and Ali. The Education Programs department is so understanding, flexible, supportive, and has intelligent individuals that made me feel right at home in my first week. I gained an immense amount of knowledge on specific time periods and earned praise for my hard work. With these experiences that I have gained at the APS, I am confidently a better student, researcher, and future teacher. I can only hope to have similar job opportunities and experiences going forward in my career, and, maybe even one day, I will work with APS again! In the meantime, you other educators, check out the great resources from the APS!


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Estelle Markel-Joyet
American Philosophical Society
American Philosophical Society