Teen Summer Docent volunteer Dorothy Zhang holds up her certificate

Diary of a Teen Docent Volunteer: Dorothy Zhang

LSC News

Walking through the doors of LSC on the first day of the Teen Summer Docent program, I knew one other person in the program. Walking away on the last day, I had met thirty bright, kind, and relatable individuals whose paths I probably wouldn’t have ever crossed otherwise.

These are the people I have worked with for the past month and a half, who have taught me more than I could have ever anticipated. Each one played a significant role in sculpting my summer into an unforgettable experience. I will carry our inside jokes around through the upcoming months, and will probably randomly reference them in odd places...confusing everyone around me, but reminding myself of the people whose brilliance and humor shaped one of my favorite summers!

One of the most exciting tasks my fellow docents and I were asked to undertake in our time at LSC came in the form of Program Development. We were fortunate enough to be the first group of Teen Summer Docents to be offered this opportunity, and we definitely made the most of it. My team designed, revised, and constructed a new table-top activity for Boost Your Brain, with an emphasis on interactivity, and catering to all age groups. Over the course of several weeks, we worked together to convert our jumble of ideas into an activity called Mind Maze that teaches learners of all ages about the different functions of the cerebral lobes, in the form of an interactive game-like experience. At the end of it, I could not be more proud of my teammates and our program.

Aside from the other docents with whom I had the privilege of spending my summer, I loved the wide range of people I met while on the floors. From stumping elementary campers with riddles at Boost Your Brain, to helping a registered nurse diagnose a virtual patient at the Clinic Table in Microbes Rule!, every day brought something new and unpredictable. One of my favorite memories is of two brothers I met while working in Sean Kenney’s Art Made with LEGO® Bricks. One of the boys was incredibly knowledgeable about birds of all kinds, despite being just five years old. His passion and enthusiasm – especially about the small parakeet he was building out of LEGO bricks – served as a reminder for why I chose to spend my summer volunteering at LSC in the first place: to witness those defining moments in a young learner’s lifelong quest for new knowledge.

Now, as these six weeks come to a close, I can confidently recommend the Teen Summer Docent program to any high school student seeking a productive way to spend their summer. Those who choose to participate will have the opportunity to meet incredible people from all walks of life, in the form of fellow volunteers, associates, guest speakers, and visitors flowing in and out of the Science Center each and every day. As cliche as it sounds, every interaction truly brings something new, and every second is a unique learning experience.

Most importantly, however, is the opportunity to not only more about science, and other STEM fields, but to learn more about others, and how to engage with people effectively and purposefully. My own experience at LSC has definitely been one I’ll never forget, and I’m incredibly sad to see it end. Moving into senior year, I’m sure there will be countless more memories in the making, but this past summer has definitely reserved a special place at the top of that list.

Dorothy Zhang was a participant in LSC’s Teen Summer Docent program, Summer 2019. Click here to learn more about the program!

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