Kylah Fanning ’20: Public Events Intern, The Franklin Institute

Name: Kylah Fanning
Class Year: 2020
Major: Linguistics (Education minor)
Hometown: Westminster, M.D.

Internship Organization: The Franklin Institute
Job Title: Public Events Intern
Location: Philadelphia

If you had told me in February that I would be spending my summer experimenting with the iridescence of bubbles, exploring 3-D augmented reality renderings of planets and moons in our solar system, and helping kids turn balloons and film canisters into rockets, I wouldn’t have believed you. I would have thought I had just heard the description of the coolest job in the world, though.

w naomi

My fellow intern, Naomi, and I wear bike helmets fitted and given away by a Franklin Institute partner to all June Community Night visitors.

I have been incredibly lucky to spend the summer as the Public Events Intern at The Franklin Institute. When I found this internship, while scrolling through the Career and Civic Engagement Center’s internship partners, I was delighted. I had loved visiting science museums growing up, and to share that experience with the thousands of visitors for whom The Franklin Institute Public Events team plans events was an exciting prospect.

As an Education minor at Bryn Mawr, the internship has allowed me to explore a realm of the field of education outside of the classroom setting. In fact, “inspire[ing] a passion for learning about science and technology” is the central mission of The Franklin Institute, and that spirit is baked into everything I do at my internship. For every event, we focus on highlighting certain aspects of the museum — the planetarium and astronomy wing during monthly Night Skies events, for example, or the many family-friendly exhibits of the museum during free, monthly Community Nights. We do this by coordinating extensive teams of volunteers and partner organizations to present event-theme-related activities. This summer, the museum has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and I have gotten to reach out to partners who have brought moon-landing-themed activities to events, coordinate schedules for our volunteers and staff during the Institute’s July Community Night, and taught kids visiting the museum how to make and launch rockets from common household items.

The breadth of responsibilities that I have keeps me on my toes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Somewhat to my surprise, interning at the museum has opened up the world of informal learning to me as a potential career path. I have immensely enjoyed balancing behind-the-scenes work with interacting with guests during events. It turns out I love the design and experimentation that goes into programming as much as that which goes into a good hands-on science demonstration.

Creating a colorful reaction at the Pride Science After Hours event.

Creating a colorful reaction at the Pride Science After Hours event.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of my internship experience has been sharing a love for science learning not only with kids, but with adults as well. The excitement about science is infectious, in the office, and on the museum floor. I love calling adults over to my table when I am showcasing the augmented reality planets — I have something really cool to show you, I say, and watch as they pick up a tablet to appease my request. I hold my breath until the camera focuses on a 2D picture of a planet — maybe, let’s say Mars. And then, just as the image seems to freeze, the 3D, rotating rendering pops up on screen. Without fail, their face breaks into an expression of joy, and wonder at the image on screen, which they can zoom in on, and rotate with their finger, to explore the surface of another world, millions of miles away, in more detail than they likely ever imagined. For a moment, I pause to enjoy our mutual awe at their ability to experience this exploration. Then I ask them if they would like to go back in time, because we can use a feature to see what Mars looked like when it had liquid water. And this time they agree eagerly.

It has been a joy to explore science education through the crafting of immersive, community-oriented public events. Anyone who is interested in checking out events like the ones I have helped prepare this summer should explore The Franklin Institute’s Events and Programs. Bryn Mawr students can discover more amazing internship opportunities through the Career & Civic Engagement Center’s Internship Partners.

Testing circuit boards after soldering them to repair disconnected wires. The circuit boards are used during events like Community Night at interactive, create-your-own-circuit stations.

Testing circuit boards after soldering them to repair disconnected wires. The circuit boards are used during events like Community Night at interactive, create-your-own-circuit stations.

Phoebe Cribb ’20: Progressive Policy Institute

Name: Phoebe Cribb
Class Year: 2020
Major: Political Science
Chorley, United Kingdom

Internship Organization: Progressive Policy Institute
Job Title: Education Policy Intern
Location: Washington, D.C.

What’s happening at your internship?

This summer I am working at the Progressive Policy Institute on a project focusing on Charter Schools and Innovation school networks. Through researching, policy briefings and meetings, I am producing a “how-to guide” for state legislators and districts about creating effective innovation schools, as well as model legislation. My research is based on models that have been successfully implemented in Indianapolis, Memphis and Denver, and how these models can be expanded. In addition, I attend policy briefings and events on Capitol Hill, write blog posts for the PPI website, and keep up to date on the latest education policy news.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I am passionate about education policy and I wanted to be able to learn about how legislation is researched, created and enacted in D.C. I also wanted to experience how an influential policy think tank functions on a day to day basis. Through participating in the Bi-Co education program I have been able to observe various K-12 classrooms in Philadelphia. Therefore, I wanted to see how my understanding of the classroom compared to federal policy initiatives. I also wanted to take this opportunity to explore D.C. and connect with other interns in the city.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of my internship has been working in a small, collaborative environment. PPI is one of the smaller think tanks in D.C., so I get to work closely with really influential policy researchers and writers. Also, every Friday we have intern lunch day, which I look forward to every week. The main topic of discussion in the office has been the 2020 presidential election.

Can you give us three adjectives and three nouns that describe your internship experience?

Adjectives: Enlightening, fast-paced, collaborative
Nouns: Coffee, LinkedIn, The West Wing