Junior Reporter: A Night at the Museum

March 30, 2018

Junior Reporter Insha M. had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sleep over at the National Archives in Washington DC. While there, she was able to chat with an astronaut, make a rocket, touch moon rock, and much more! Read about her experience and why there was such an opportunity in the first place. Thanks for sharing, Insha!

Junior Reporter: A Night at the Museum

By Insha M.

When my mom told me that we were planning to go for a sleepover at the National Archives, I could not believe my ears. This was the first time I was going for a sleepover ever. Washington DC has a lot of interesting and informative places, and the National Archives is one of them. It houses important documents and records. Not only that, they also host events and activities for kids. The sleepover was one such event— it was to remember John F. Kennedy, who would have turned one hundred this year. He was a big supporter of space exploration, so the theme of the sleepover was space.

When we reached the gate, I felt a rush of excitement go through me. We got into the building and went through security. They took our picture with our sleeping bags for fun. A volunteer took us to the activity wing. I looked around … and saw so many people. First we did rocket-making, and we even got to launch them by the staircase. It was difficult to design and build a rocket. I followed instructions and also used my own ideas. When I looked at one of the tables, I saw strange tiles, and the labels said rocket tiles. So I decided to take a closer look. “Wow!” I thought, “A real rocket tile!” I read the details on the label, and it said it was made of silicone. Silicone can tolerate very high temperatures—it is a very lightweight yet sturdy metal—and the tiles were used to cover the outside of the rocket.

Insha M. meets NASA astronaut Charles Bolden.

We went upstairs in the museum to check out more activities. Mr. Charles Bolden, a very well-known astronaut, was answering questions and talking to kids in one of the rooms. When we entered the room, he was talking to someone, so I went to check out space food at one of the tables. It was packaged in airtight packs. Astronauts had to choose in advance what they wanted to eat during their missions. When I got the chance, I went to meet Mr. Bolden. I asked him what he wanted to be when he was little. He said he wanted to work different jobs at different times, but at one point, he wanted to be the guy who hangs off the back of the trash truck. He said he absolutely did not want to be a marine or fly planes. Strangely, that is exactly what he ended up doing before going to space when he joined the Navy to train as a marine and learn to fly aircrafts.

In another room, we were able to touch moon rock. Then it was time for the scavenger hunt. Volunteers gave us a list of things to find in one of the exhibits. We found all of the things on the list, and one of the volunteers gave us a 3-D magnet as a prize. My favorite part of the exhibition were the letters written by kids to the presidents of the United States. One of the funniest letters was where a boy demanded that the president should sent him an army of cleaning robots to clean his bedroom every day!!!

Then we went back down to the theater. Mr. Bolden did his presentation there. By the end of the presentation, we were too tired, so we decided to set up our sleeping bags and go to sleep. We all slept in the rotunda, which is where they keep the Charters of Freedom: the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. Some people stayed up and watched a movie or listened to space stories.

People came for the sleepover from all over the country. There were even people from Washington State and Hawaii. In the morning, we woke up to Good Day Sunshine, a special song the Beatles wrote for a team of astronauts. When we got downstairs, we got to eat pancakes that the chief archivist made. While we drove home, I thought about writing this article for Xyza readers.

See you later, future astronauts!