Some of my fondest memories from my childhood were going on school field trips to the great museums of Chicago. We’d jump on a big yellow bus and head to the city for a day of learning. I remember seeing airplanes (Museum of Science and Industry), dinosaurs (Field Museum), planets (Adler Planetarium) and fish (Shedd Aquarium).
My family didn’t make it to the city often, so my visits to the museums were few and far between. However, that didn’t keep me from scientific exploration. Some of my favorite toys were a microscope, telescope and an amateur chemistry set. While I never found Halley’s Comet and that chemistry set caused some minor mishaps, I fell in love with science anyway.
In college, I studied biology and chemistry. That led to a stint in pharmacy school. When I figured out that I’d hate working at Walgreens, I dropped out and picked up computers. Life came full circle when I got a job writing code for a medical device and could apply a little bit of that biology knowledge.
And then I had children.
My daughters and I have been to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science many times:
We even slept over as part of a school field trip:
And when we travel, we visit museums:
I want my girls to have the same passion for learning and curiosity about the world that I do. I want them to be thinkers and skeptics. I want them to grow to appreciate science the way I do. It’s not always easy, but good museums certainly help.
How many times have you heard this question:
What do you want for <insert favorite holiday>?
My knee-jerk answer now is always this:
I have everything I need in life. I admit that I’d love a new Tesla Roadster, but that’s probably not gonna happen. Also, that isn’t exactly a “need.”
But, telling people that I don’t want anything doesn’t work well either. Well-meaning friends and relatives sometimes feel bad if they can’t do something, so this is what I tell them now:
I practice Reverse Christmas. Instead of receiving a gift, I prefer to give something, usually in the form of a monetary donation to a worthy charity or cause. If you’d like to do something for me, give me happiness by giving money to an organization that needs it. I’d love to hear who you helped out!
This Year’s Gift
At a recent Our Next Life meetup, I met Megan who works in fundraising at the Denver museum. After I met her, I started thinking:
I have extra money. Maybe I can help the museum somehow?
I contacted my new fundraising friend and asked her what I could do to help. She mentioned school-kids get free admission to the museum, but some schools have a hard time paying for the transportation. It only costs $50 to buy enough fuel to get 37 kids to the museum, so I donated $400. My gift will send 296 kids to the museum. I’m also buying $100 worth of gift cards to contribute to my children’s school’s silent
Maybe one of the kids I help will be inspired like I was? Maybe one will see a dinosaur skeleton and become a paleontologist. Or maybe another will see the rocket exhibit and go to Mars in a couple decades. It’s fun to consider the possibilities.
If you’re interested in making a similar gift to my home museum or another closer to you, I’ve included some links below.
NOTE: These are museums that I’ve personally enjoyed. If you have a museum you’d like me to include, please leave the name in the comments section and I’ll add it.
My home museum: Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Suggestions that aren’t location specific:
In my 45 years, I can’t ever remember feeling the division that I feel now in the world. The news consistently sucks
But if you’re here reading these words, life is probably pretty good for you. No matter how you feel about the state of the current political climate, try to take a step back once in a while and consider the beauty of the world we live in. It’s pretty great.
Join the 10s who have signed up already!
Subscribing will improve your life in incredible ways*.
*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.