Holding the Moon and Mars at the same time? That’s pretty cool…

How many people get to say they held a piece of the Moon and a piece of Mars at the same time?

By Dean’s Intern Nick Zachar at Smithsonian

Coming to American University as a Masters student pursuing my MFA in Film and Electronic Media I knew my goal was to share my passion for science with a wide array of audiences. What I did not know was that I would soon join an institution like Smithsonian to be able to do just that. In the Fall of 2014 I had the opportunity to join the Content Team in the Education and Outreach department of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History as a Video Production Intern, and have been there ever since.

As an intern I have had some awesome opportunities to learn how media is utilized and delivered throughout the museum, which gets about 7 million visitors a year! I have tried each and every day to learn something new (I don’t have to try very hard at all…). I specifically help with the live Smithsonian Science How webcasts, where I shoot, edit, and deliver promotional videos for upcoming webcasts. On production day, I have had the opportunity to wear many different hats, from camera operator to floor producer. This has given me invaluable experience in live production in a low-pressure setting that I never would have had the opportunity to get without this internship.

So, a little bit about the webcasts. Each month our team finds a scientist to be in the spotlight. Our host, Maggy Benson, has a conversation with the scientist and we stream it live for anyone to watch, but our main audiences are middle school students. These students can also interact with the scientist by asking questions in real time. It has been awesome to watch each webcast evolve and viewership rise. We just wrapped season 2!

I have had the opportunity to gain experience in every area of the Content Team and have shadowed some really talented individuals, all of whom are great mentors. For our final webcast of season 2 we had Dr. Tim McCoy, a geologist who studies asteroids, talk to students. He was a natural in front of the camera and extremely funny. He brought in rocks from all over our solar system, including Mars and the Moon. He even brought in a piece of the Allende meteorite, which contains the oldest known matter! Little did I know at the start of my internship that I would be able to stand on Earth holding a piece of the Moon in one hand, and Mars in the other.