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  • mary714 3:29 pm on July 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    can’t get enough of blogs? Check out the Investigating Where We Live blog at http://www.iwwl.blogspot.com

  • mary714 3:23 pm on July 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Last official week of IWWL 

    Monday we had our staff meeting in the morning. Then I spent the rest of the day prepping for the week. We got a great deal accomplished Tuesday. The students chose which photos they wanted in the final exhibit. Lauren and I made sure each student had at least two photos. Next we chose an exhibit title. We had several choices for the students to vote on. The students overwhelmingly chose “The Hidden Secrets of Southwest Waterfront. They felt this worked well, as Southwest is not a well known area, but it has much to offer. Then we broke up into small groups to accomplish a variety of tasks. The layout group worked on choosing where the photos would go on the wall. I had cut a large piece of brown butcher paper for them to make a mockup. Once the layout group decided the order of the pictures, they presented it to the rest of the group. The layout group told us that they had randomly placed the photos. I asked the students if they could come up with some kind of grouping or theme for the photos, since I thought they should put more thought into it. After brainstorming some more they decided to extend the secrets theme. A photograph of a lock that one of the students took will be hung on the first panel of our wall. On the last panel one of our artistically gifted students will paint an open lock, underneath which will say “you have unlocked the secrets of Southwest. On the panels in between we will paint a chain and arrange the photos around it. I was glad that the students came up with a more involved concept for our exhibit. While the layout group was working students worked on other projects. Several students worked on our map of Southwest that will be part of the exhibit. They blew up a map of the neighborhood on a large piece of foam board. They then decorated the map with small photographs that correspond to the correct areas. For example, the students put pictures of the fish market where the fish market is located. We also worked on the interactive. The students pasted fun facts about SW on crab shells that visitors will be able to pick up and read. We spent the rest of the week working on these projects with the kids. The exhibit opens July 30th! I hope we can get everything done in time.

  • mary714 2:17 pm on July 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Last Site Visit 

    Tuesday was our last site visit with the students. First we met with a contractor named Mr. Wilson who is working on renovating two of the large apartment buildings that were constructed in the 1960s called Capital Park Plaza. Capital Park Plaza was designed by Chloethiel Woodard Smith, one of the first female architects to get large commissions in DC. Mr. Wilson explained to the students how the buildings are very durable, as they are made of solid concrete. Mr. Wilson also described how these buildings were the prime place to live when they were constructed, and many famous politicians resided in them. They hosted fancy cocktail and pool parties. Mr. Wilson took us through the gates and we walked around the buildings, which we could not have done on our own. For the next portion of our site visit we split up into small groups, so we could cover lots of ground and have a good variety of photos for our exhibit. I took a group of five students down 4th street. Before the redevelopment of the 1950s, 4th street used to be the commercial corridor of Southwest Waterfront. However now it is all apartment buildings. During redevelopment planners did preserve one set of rowhouses, called Wheat Row, because it dates from 1789. I made sure to point out Wheat Row to the students. We also did a sketching exercise in front of it. One of the students, an eleven year old named Levi, drew an excellent sketch of Wheat Row. We are going to include it in the exhibit. While we were walking I also pointed out a set of apartments with aluminum trim. The students thought this was interesting and took lots of photos of it. After we went down 4th street we went to the Titanic Memorial. The Titanic Memorial was designed by the female sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, and was unveiled in 1931. Meant to honor those who died on the Titanic, it depicts a man with his arms outstretched. It is a great subject to photograph, and I gave the students 15 minutes to do so. I was happy to see that they photographed the sculpture from a variety of angles, a technique we had been emphasizing. Then it was time to head back to the museum for lunch. After lunch we did a photo review with the professional photographers. The students also picked which photos they wanted to be printed from that day’s site visit. After the students left Lauren and I worked on printing out the photos they had selected. That is quite a process, and took us two hours. However, we split the work each taking five students, making it go faster.

  • mary714 3:15 pm on July 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Community, , Southwest Waterfront   

    Architecture, Community, Interviews 

    This was week two of Investigating Where We Live. I had Monday off for the Fourth of July Weekend. Tuesday students joined us again. We were supposed to have a site visit on Tuesday, but DC experienced an extreme heat wave, and health advisories were issued. Jamee decided to cancel the site visit, which was a decision I wholeheartedly agreed with. In the morning we had a photo review with the students. We went over the photos I had printed out for them. The students got feedback from the professional photographers. That afternoon I had to teach a lesson on architectural history and historic preservation, which I had not been planning to do until Wednesday. I could not have asked for a better audience. Everyone sat quietly while I was talking. I tried to make my presentation as interactive as possible by asking lots of questions, and the students readily participated. I was especially proud of my group, the Southwest Waterfront, as they answered many of my questions. For my presentation I went over some of the most prominent architectural styles in DC. I discussed Classical, Gothic, Federal, Victorian, and Modern. After going over the features of each style, I asked the students if they could think of any examples. Then I had them analyze the example I provided. I also had the students sketch one prominent architectural feature in their sketchbook for each style. For the activity the students built models of buildings in their neighborhoods out of materials like boxes, popsicle sticks, and construction paper. The students used photographs they had taken in the neighborhoods as guides. I was happy to see that the students got very involved in their projects, and put a great deal of effort into them. When I announced that they only had ten minutes left they all begged for more time to work on their buildings. In the Southwest group students made a house boat, a federal house called the Thomas Law House, the Safeway Grocery store, and Jefferson Jr. High School. The models really turned out well, and the students had fun making them. The Trinidad group made some great models of colorful row houses, which are a prominent feature in the neighborhood.

    Thursday was another site visit. It was still very hot, but there were not any heat advisories in the morning. Thursday’s focus was on interviews. The students were given the task of interviewing community members to hear about their perspectives. We had scheduled a meeting with the marina dock master. When the dock master arrived he gave the students a nice background and history on the marina. He explained how developers want to fix up the marina, to bring it up to par with areas such as the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. I’m glad the students were able to meet with the dock master, as he gave a great overview of the marina. He agreed to be filmed, so maybe we will use the interview in the exhibit in some way. After the interview with the dock master we returned to the museum for lunch. The students also did a writing workshop with a guest speaker. The students were very tired from being outside all morning, so they did not have much energy during the writing exercise. However, I think having a quiet activity for them to do was a good idea. I do think they had fun with the writing exercises, even if they were very quiet.

    The students don’t come of Fridays, so I spent the day doing prep tasks. I uploaded the videos the students had taken to our network and to the classroom computers, which took several hours. I updated the Investigating Where We Live Blog with some posts the students had written. I took all the batteries out of the cameras and charged them, and put fresh batteries in the cameras. We had a brown bag lunch with the Education Department. Even though I am interning with the Education Department I still enjoyed the lunch. I am in the outreach division, so I am already familiar with what we do. However, I learned about other divisions in the Education Department, such as public programs and school programs. It was obvious that everyone who spoke really loves their job, which was inspiring to hear. I would really like to work in museum education, and hearing everyone talk confirmed to me that it is a great field to work in.

  • mary714 1:45 pm on July 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , IWWL, kids, ,   

    First week of IWWL! 

    This was the first official week of Investigating Where We Live. For the next four weeks students will attend the program Tuesday through Thursday. The program went really well this week, and I’m really looking forward to continuing with the students. Monday was the last day we had for preparation. I spent all day getting ready for the program. We had a team meeting all Monday morning. Then in the afternoon I met individually with my team leader Lauren to plan out our first site visit. I printed out 11 historical photographs to give the students, so they could compare them with what Southwest Waterfront looks like today. I also met with Andrew Costanza, another team leader with whom I’ll be teaching an architecture lesson next week. We split up the lesson, so I will be presenting the content and he will be leading the activities. I put together a presentation about architectural history and historic preservation. I had to keep my audience in mind, since it will be composed of 11 to 16 year olds, and this can be a dry subject. I decided to only discuss classical, gothic, federal, arts and crafts, and modern architecture. These are they styles that they will most often see around DC and in their neighborhoods. All of the examples are from DC. I also am going to have them draw different features of these styles in their sketchbooks as I present, to keep them interested.

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    • ag6154a 1:39 pm on July 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for writing about your experience with a program run through the National Building Museum. I had no idea this Museum existed or that they offered such great internship programs. I have been looking all over the place for solid internships to apply for and I feel like I just struck gold!

      Thank you so much for bringing this Museum to my attention! They run some really great programs for DC kids.

      • mary714 3:07 pm on July 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        I definitely recommend interning at the National Building Museum, especially if you are interested in education! Education is a primary focus of the museum and they offer lots of great ways to work with younger students. I have really enjoyed my time at NMB so far, and will be quite sad when my internship is over!

  • mary714 8:58 pm on June 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Exploring SW Waterfront 

    This week was very busy, as this was our last week to get ready before Investigating Where We Live officially starts. Monday we had a big meeting with the interns, Jamee, and the three staff members who will be leading each group. Lauren Wilson will be leading Southwest Waterfront, so I will be working with her. Lauren got her M.A. in Museum Education from George Washington. She is only a few years older than me so I think she will be fun to work with. She is very into photography. Lauren did IWWL last year, so I am glad that I will be with an experienced team leader. During our meeting Jamee went over the whole program schedule with us. We talked about our expectations and responsibilities. Monday afternoon and Tuesday I helped Jamee with prep work for the program.

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  • mary714 12:48 am on June 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CPR, First Aid, TB Testing, Tudor Place   


    I spent a good part of this week getting the qualifications necessary for working with children. Monday I did a required background check. Vinita, Sarah-Guyton and I went to the D.C. Courthouse. We provided them with our driver’s licenses and social security numbers. While they ran the background checks we had to go to a different part of the building to pay. We had to stand in line for quite awhile. Then we went back upstairs to pick up our background checks. It was quite a process, and it took all morning. In the afternoon we worked on the timeline for the classroom. We decided to make it look like a metro map. We used color tape to represent the three neighborhoods. On Microsoft word I created dots that looked the dots on the metro map. We put the dates in these dots. Then we mounted the events on colored construction paper. Typing everything up and cutting it out took up all Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

    Tuesday afternoon Jamee had a big meeting. She invited to explore DC a bit and go check out a photography exhibit. We decided to go to the African Art Museum and see an exhibit about the artist Paul Emmanuel called Transitions. According to the museum’s website, “”Transitions” comprises a series of five ostensibly “photographic” works which, when examined closely, reveal sensitively hand-drawn, photo-realist images on photographic paper. The works contemplate manhood and the transitions an individual goes through in society.” The photos depict events such as putting on a suit coat and a circumcision. An accompanying film examines the ritual of military recruits getting their heads shaved. Emmanuel’s work inspired me to try to find a way to get the students to hand alter their photographs, or maybe collage them with historic photographs I have found. After seeing the exhibit I had to go to the Health Center at AU to get a TB test. They are required to work with children. I also met with Dr. Langa to turn in the first part of my journal and get feedback on my thesis paper.

    Wednesday we continued to help Jamee with classroom prep. We kept working on the timeline, cutting out events and mounting them on construction paper. We were able to finish the timeline, but did not hung it up. Thursday we had CPR and First Aid training. That took up the entire day. It was a great deal of information presented all at once, but luckily I passed the tests for both parts, so I am officially certified. The instructor had dummies for us to practice on, which was helpful.

    Friday morning I went back to the AU Health Center so the doctor could see if I reacted to the TB test. I had not so they gave me a clean bill of health. Then I went to the NBM. We had an intern field trip to the Tudor Place, in Georgetown. All the interns went. It was nice getting to know some of them better, as they work in different departments so I don’t often see them. We had lunch with the Tudor Place interns, and they were friendly and interesting to talk to. Then we got a tour of the house. The house was built by Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Martha Custis Peter, and her husband, Thomas Peter, in 1816. Tudor Place remained under the ownership of six generations of the Peter family, unitl 1983. After the death of the last owner the house was opened to the public in 1988 under the stewardship of the Tudor Place Foundation. The home has over 100 objects that originally belonged to George and Martha Washington and the largest silver collection in the country.

  • mary714 2:24 am on June 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    June 7th to June 11th 

    This week I finally wrapped up my research. I finished assembling the binders Monday morning. Then I helped Jamee with some clerical tasks. I helped put together folders on the shared drive for the students to use. I also labeled real folders for the students to store hard copies of their photos in. Jamee and I had a meeting and I shared with her my finished binders. She let me chose which neighborhood I wanted to explore with the students. I chose Southwest Waterfront, because I am most interested in its history. Jamee suggested that I visit Southwest Waterfront on Tuesday morning, and I agreed.

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  • mary714 2:22 am on June 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: MLK Library, petworth,   

    June 1st-4th 

    This week was a short one at the NBM, as I had Monday off for Memorial Day and then I went home on Friday for my little brother’s graduation. However, I still got a good deal of research done. This week I tackled Trinidad. I had been putting off this neighborhood, as I could tell from a cursory overview that it had the least amount of information and would provide the greatest challenge. However, I began carefully searching through the online archives of the Washington Post, to see what information I could find. I was able to put together a solid history of the neighborhood, even if it is not as extensive as Petworth and the Southwest Waterfront.

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  • mary714 10:41 pm on June 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: archives, d.c., history,   

    Research Research 

    This week I continued my neighborhood research. Researching these neighborhoods has been a bit of challenge, because they are not well known. When I google them sometimes information comes up on websites like Wikipedia, but I am determined to use solid sources so I can produce work that I am proud of. After scouring the internet for reputable sources and getting books from the NBM’s small library, I had had no luck in finding information about the history of Petworth. . My supervisors had mentioned that I was welcome to go to the Washington, DC Historical Society to do research, so I went on Tuesday. The historical society is an easy fifteen minute walk from NBM, so getting there was no problem.

    When I arrived at the building I had to sign in at the front desk. Then when I went upstairs to the library I had to show my driver’s license and get an account. Once I had set that up I went straight to the reference librarian, and asked if she had any suggestions for researching Petworth and the Southwest waterfront, the two areas I decided to focus on for the day. I was expecting her to direct me to some books on D.C. history. However, she pulled out folders full of newspaper clippings relating to the neighborhoods from a file drawer.

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  • mary714 4:02 pm on May 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    First week…. 


    My name is Mary Cameron.  I am currently a grad student at American University, earning a Master’s in Art History.  This summer I am interning at the National Building Museum, in the education department.

    My first week at the National Building Museum (NMB) was all about getting acquainted with my new work environment.  My supervisor Jamee Telford met me on my first day.  She took me around the education department, introducing me to my co-workers.  I got a docent led tour of the museum.  I learned that the building originally served as the Pension office for the federal government.  It was designed by General Montgomery C. Meigs and completed in 1887.  The design is modeled on the Farnese Palace in Rome, with a large atrium surrounded by an arcade.  Wrapping around the exterior of the building is a frieze, sculpted by Caspar Buberl,  depicting scenes from the Civil War.   Meigs designed the building with its visitors’ in mind.  He made the steps very shallow so injured veterans, visiting the Pension bureau to claim their payments, could easily navigate the stairs.  Meigs also carefully designed the building to allow for a strong air flow, integral to keeping the building cool in pre-air conditioning days.  Meigs chose to use brick as his construction material, as it was the cheapest option available.  The columns of the interior arcades are made of cast iron.  Meigs utilized them as time capsules, placing newspaper clippings inside.  Recently the NBM drilled a hole in one of the columns and used a camera to see the contents.

    One of my main tasks this week was to begin researching the neighborhoods that Investigating Where We Live will be examining.  These are Petworth, Trinidad, and the South West Waterfront.  Whenever I had down time throughout the week I worked on my research.  I mainly focused on Petworth.  Petworth is located in North East Washington.  This is an exciting time for Petworth, as it is undergoing a period of revitalization.  Much investment is coming into the neighborhood, allowing new shops and restaurants to open.  Many residents are drawn to the neighborhood due to reasonably priced real houses with yards that can be renovated.

    On Wednesday I observed the City by Design education program.  In this program, school groups are introduced to ideas of urban planning, and work to design their own cities.  The students learned that cities typically consist of residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and entertainment buildings.  In addition, parks further add to quality of life.  They were then assigned to these different categories, and made a building that fit into these descriptions using recycled materials.  For example,  I helped a student who was assigned industrial make an airport out of a box and paper towel rolls.  After the students made their buildings they placed them on a large floor map in a way they thought would be pleasant for residents.

    On Thursday and Friday I helped with the City Vision education program, which was wrapping up this week.   City Vision is a semester long program where D.C. public school students design plans for undeveloped areas of Washington, DC.  The students come to the NBM once a week to develop their ideas.  I helped with a group that designed a plan for the Navy Yard area.  On Thursday I helped them build a model.  They used Styrofoam covered with construction paper to represent buildings and placed them on a posterboard that served as a base.  I enjoyed working with the students and hearing their ideas.  It made me excited for when the Investigating Where We Live students get here.  I was greatly impressed with their design.  The students decided that the waterfront should be turned into an entertainment area for people to enjoy.  Currently the waterfront mainly consists of office buildings, so the students decided they should design a space that could be enjoyed by people after work or on the weekends.  The students placed a boardwalk next to the water.  Restaurants lined the area boardwalk.  Their plan also included parks, a movie theatre, and a recreation center.  On Friday I helped the students work on their final presentations.  At the end of the semester students present their designs to a panel of judges.  This is a great opportunity for the students, as it gives them public speaking experience.  I helped the kids organize their presentation and come up with what they wanted to say.  I also helped set up for the event.  I helped the education department set up a stage and chairs in the atrium, and I helped put out food.  It was a great first week, and I’m so glad I will be here for the summer!

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