Military kids around the nation are reporting for Chameleon Kids and MILITARY KIDS’ LIFE magazine on the exciting adventures they are finding as the explore the interesting places military life takes them!
Take a look inside the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. near the U.S. Capitol with our military kid reporter, Lydia.
Lydia will be your eyes and nose (!) as she explores inside
the Conservatory and National Gardens.
What museums have you explored as a military kid?
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(Contest ends 7/31/16)
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A DAY AT THE U.S. BOTANIC GARDEN
By Lydia, age 15, military kid reporter
As my mom and I approach the entrance of the United States Botanic Garden, I can’t help but stop to snap a few photos. Even the outside of the building has an impressive variety of flowers, all different colors. As I continue walking along, taking pictures of the raised garden beds, I am greeted by our friendly tour guide, Devin. He invites us to sit outdoors and we soak in all of the scenery as well as some information on the gardens.
“Our mission is really to help people connect with plants,” he says as he talks about several of the programs that they offer. My ears perk up when he mentions their class on how to photograph flowers and plants.
We walk through the outdoor portion called the National Garden, where there is a beautiful walk-way with flowers bordering it. Devin takes us to an outdoor amphitheater where they have musical shows and host school groups. He explains that there are a series of fountains, ponds, and streams throughout the garden to provide a relaxing sound and environment for their guests. Bumble bees and butterflies fly past us as we walk to the rose bushes, which have just passed their blooming season; I smell the flowers on the bushes as I lean down to take a few close-up pictures.
When I enter the main entry room, there is green everywhere; under a coco tree are two volunteers explaining to a group of kids how chocolate is made. Huge leaves brush my shoulder as I walk around the room, Devin pointing out vanilla vines, coffee plants, and lime trees, all producing things we use almost daily.
I take photos of everything, trying to capture it all as we progress to another room where there are groups of kindergarteners walking through, pointing at all of the pretty flowers and funny looking trees. As we continue our tour, I feel the air change from humid to dry, then warm to cold, which our guide informs us is to help plants from that climate survive at the museum. We enter a room full of plants used for medicinal purposes, and see what gives root-beer its flavor. We then walk to a room full of plants that adapt to whatever environment they are living in, including plants that can survive by drawing nutrients from the air.
My surroundings change from a tropical rainforest to a Hawaiian lava field, and then an orchid paradise. We spend three hours in the museum and barely have enough time to cover what is, for many living in D.C., a place to spend a relaxing day.
“Did you know that it’s been studied… museums can make you happier!” Suzi, an arts program senior manager for Blue Star Families* who toured the gardens with us later says. “Spending time enjoying an experience is more rewarding than a purchase you may have made at the mall. I think going to a museum also helps military families and kids because museums are community centers. As families move from one community to another, the museum can be a place of connection.”
As we leave the Botanic Garden I turn back to take one last photo; if this museum’s mission is to connect people to plants, then they have certainly accomplished it today.
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A FREE place to have FUN!
Entrance to the U.S. Botanic Garden is FREE! But you can also get into a whole bunch of other museums that normally charge a fee. HOW? Learn more about the Blue Star Museums program!
*Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to the nation’s active duty military personnel including National Guard and Reserve and their families from Memorial Day, May 30, through Labor Day, September 5, 2016.
“Art gives us an experience like nothing else can, a chance to connect, understand, and explore perceptions, feelings, and innovative thoughts. Museums provide a space for reflection, experimentation, inspiration, creativity, enjoyment and allow for authentic learning experiences and play…”
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5 QUICK Reasons the local museum should be your FIRST stop for fun at a new duty station
- You’ll learn interesting stuff about where you are now living.
- Touch. Smell. See. A lot of museums are very hands on. You’ll experience something cool for sure.
- It’s open. It’s free. And it’s probably not that far away.
- If you’re a teen, you might be able to volunteer or work there.
- Museums are a great place to think. And sometimes you need a place to think in the middle of a move.
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