Our staff at the Incarcerated Youth Program is always willing to go to unusual lengths to enhance the learning of our students, given that our school environment is located in the DC Jail. Therefore, when it was suggested that we take a staff field trip to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and Natural History Museum, all staff said YES! This year the FolkLife Festival featured the 25th anniversary of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the Arts and Creativity of the Anacostia River and the 150th anniversary of Public and Land Grant Universities at the USDA. We took the subway down to the National Mall and arrived a little before the start of the festival activities. We ventured into the Natural History Museum to maximize time and were fortunate enough to visit the live butterfly pavilion that is being featured and to view an IMAX movie about flying dinosaurs that existed during the Jurassic period.
The butterfly pavilion was absolutely amazing and the experience could be used to enhance students categorizing skills, by asking them to categorize pictures of butterflies, by various features such as wing color or wing span. After leaving the museum and returning to the Mall area, we viewed the many beautiful panels that make up the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Students could be asked to create a quilt panel that memorializes a loved one as an art project, making sure to create images that accurately represent their loved one. In the USDA tented area, one of the demonstrations gave participants the opportunity to cook with Vermont maple syrup and goat meat. Students could be asked to create recipes that utilize both food items. The area highlighting the Anacostia River featured various dance and musical groups such as the East of the River Boys and Girls Steelband and The Beat Ya Feet Dance Group. There were many options for lunch and the group opted to dine in the lower level café in the Museum of Natural History. The café offered a plethora of food items such as pizza, burgers, fresh sandwiches, BBQ and salads. Rounding out the day we listened to some phenomenal spoken word artists who encouraged the audience to participate in call and response activities. Overall, despite the heat our staff had a fabulous day and was grateful for the opportunity to have fun and acquire new information that we can integrate into our summer school curriculum lessons. The Smithsonian is a national institution that offers free demonstrations, exhibits and a wealth of other resources that can be used to enhance summer learning for students in summer school or who are just having fun at home. The Folklife Festival gives you an opportunity to learn, sing, dance, try unique foods and join in stimulating conversations with people from all over the world. It’s like no other place in the world!
The Incarcerated Youth Program