04
Sep

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Inspired by our friends at FableVision, we decided to highlight what we did for the summer. 

Summer is a very busy time for the Smithsonian Science Education Center. This summer, we brought you Good Thinking!, BumperDucks, Showbiz Safari, Explore Smithsonian, and ten leadership development and professional development programs. Yes, TEN! Somehow, a few of us managed to take a vacation. 

Katya Vines, Science Curriculum Developer

"While on vacation in New Mexico and Colorado this summer I learned the following:

  • That you get dehydrated much quicker at higher altitudes
  • That an active volcano is one that has erupted once in the last 10,000 years
  • That the atomic bomb was developed in an old schoolhouse outside Los Alamos
  • That steam engines can produce black or white smoke
  • That man is very creative in using what nature has provided."
     

(L-R) Valles Caldera, NM; Bradbury Science Museum, NM; Silverton-Durango narrow gauge railway, CO;  and Mesa Verde, CO

Marjee Chmiel, Associate Director of Curriculum and Communications

"Summers in the DC area are always fantastic, but this year we vacationed back in our homeland on the "North Coast." We headed over to Door County, Wisconsin!

People who don't know much about Wisconsin are 1) missing out and 2) usually think of cheese. I can tell you that Wisconsin cheese is well worth talking about. Notice exhibit A.

This tastes even better than what you are imagining right now.

Yes, you are seeing soft goat cheese. Yes, one contains ramps. The other truffles. Yes, both were the most amazing things I have ever tasted in my life. There are no words. Should. Have sent. A poet. 

Goats are kind of a "thing" in parts of Door County. Notice exhibit B, the roof of Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant. It has grass on the roof! Very eco! How do you mow a roof? Goats are clearly the answer.

Oh hello, Mr. Goat

Door County has an amazing art gallery scene, as well. This worked out for our one rainy day. I took a video of what is probably one of the most hypnotic whirly gigs I have ever seen!" 

Carol O'Donnell, Director

"This summer, I had the chance to visit the Navajo Nation in Window Rock, AZ; attend the Navajo Nation Council legislative session; meet with the Dine' Education Superintendent and his staff; tour a local school; and hike through the beautiful scenery of Window Rock. Of course, no trip to Window Rock is complete without stopping at the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, where I was fortunate enough to photograph this colorful petrified wood made up of solid quartz and found in the park and surrounding region."

Katie Gainsback, Program Specialist

"Because we spend much of our summer with the educators we serve leading workshops and institutes, my summer vacation was a series of peaceful moments scattered across our packed programming schedule. From picking peaches for making jam with my mom to watching the sunrise over Denver, the fleeting moments of tranquility were welcome! I also reached the milestone of attending 100 barre classes at my local studio this summer and experienced the city of Philadelphia for the first time while visiting friends."

Brian Mandell, Science Curriculum Developer

"This summer, my family spent a week with my brother's family tubing, canoeing, and eating delicious wood-fired brick oven pizza in a rustic cabin on the banks of the Merrimack River, just north of Manchester, New Hampshire. We also went on a few local adventures, hiking around Great Falls National Park in McLean, Virginia, and exploring the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia."

Jean Flanagan, Science Education Research Specialist 

"My partner Oliver's family has summer access to a mountain house in the Catskills (upstate NY), so we piled into our little car with our lab/hound mix Sapphie to spend a glorious week away from the DC heat. From there we took day trips up to the Adirondacks, Green Mountains, and Berkshires. It was 50s at night, low 70s in the day, and the mountains were covered in mist and rainbows."

Ashley Deese, Educational Technology Specialist 

"This summer I was able to swim with tropical fish in crystal clear lagoons in the Caribbean, hike through tropical forests, and make multiple visits to Cape Cod and North Carolina with my fiancé. I also celebrated the second birthday of my cat, Oliver Puff! "

(L-R) Dominican Republic, Cape Cod, and Oliver Puff with his birthday mouse.

Now it is your turn! What did you do on summer vacation?  Comment below! Also check out what FableVision did for the summer!

About the Author

Ashley Deese

Ashley Deese is the Manager of Digital Media at the Smithsonian Science Education Center, a part of the Smithsonian Institution, where she leads the digital media team throughout the production and distribution of Smithsonian STEM products such as game apps, interactives, and videos for children around the world. Ashley has produced internationally acclaimed and bestselling game apps for the Smithsonian such as “BumperDucks,” “Disaster Detector,” and “Showbiz Safari.” Ashley’s game app, “Morphy!,” received an honoree award by The Webby Awards in 2016. “Aquation: The Freshwater Access Game” was a 2018 nominee for The Webby Awards inaugural games category for Public Service & Activism. Ashley was named to the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 list for her work in games.

Ashley is a voting member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a member of the Smithsonian Networks Review Committee for Smithsonian Channel, a Smithsonian unit editor for the Smithsonian Magazine Voices blog, member of the digital advisory board for the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative, and the co-chair for Smithsonian Gaming. She earned her BS in Biology from Methodist University and a MA in Interactive Media from Elon University.