Ari, tell us about your time in Techmania
I spent a little more than three months in the Czech Republic working at the newly opened Techmania Science Center in Plzen. It was undoubtedly one of the best experiences of my life. On a professional level, it was great to be a part of another science center and to see how it works. Having been an explainer at the NY Hall of Science for around two years, I already had a great appreciation for science education, so seeing the different types of topics and different communication methods used was quite educational and interesting. In addition, it was a great opportunity to share my experiences and expertise with Techmania. After two weeks I found that I was in the office more than on the museum floor, developing training, bilingual, and visitor programs.
Working with the management, Curators, Edutainers, and Junior Edutainers has also been a great experience. The training sessions in particular were really great and, I believe, quite helpful for everyone. For example, during our weekly peer-to-peer exhibit trainings done with the Edutainers and Curators we discussed the science and "Punchlines" behind exhibits and how to use an Inquiry Based Approach with visitors. Everyone at Techmania is really friendly and truly made me welcome and as part of the team from the get-go. Whether helping me to coordinate projects, including me in office-parties, or going together for a beer after work, it was lots of fun. I consider my coworkers as friends and will definitely stay in touch with many of them - as friends and not only as colleagues.
I also hope to see them again when I next visit the Czech Republic - hopefully sometime soon. This country has a really warm atmosphere and fantastic sights, and not only in Prague, but even in smaller areas, like Plzen, there's wonderful architecture and history everywhere, such as the Great Synagouge, the Skoda factory, and, of course, St. Batholomew's Cathedral. And let's not forget about the great beer! I even had the good fortune of going on a small tour with two coworkers of some of the breweries in Plzen, including the famous Pilsner Urquell brewery. And with Western Bohemia (Zapadoceska) University in town, there's no shortage of bars or friendly people to drink with.
Like I said, I have to come back!