Smithsonian visit a highlight for Pop Culture class

Alissa Williams
Alissa Williams

VAMPY is well underway, and so is the Pop Culture class taught by Mr. Mitchell. Currently, Pop Madness Debates are taking place, so the students are really able to test their knowledge and debating skills during this activity because they are researching people, events, objects, and different types of entertainment that have influenced pop culture at some point in time and debating against a fellow classmate to see which has influenced our culture more. It has been very interesting to watch these eager students research topics that they either know nothing about, or ones that they think they know everything, only to be informed later that there was a lot more information to be seen. Each of our students have debated a couple of times so far, and Mr. Mitchell and I have seen tremendous growth in their skill level.

As a TA, this is my first experience with VAMPY and it has been amazing to watch the students because they are so willing to learn whatever is being taught.

Our class has and will learn about pop culture of the 1800s all the way up until the 2010s. We have also had a Skype session with a Disney Imagineer that is now freelancing to learn about the different ways he has seen pop culture change. Wednesday our class, along with two other classes, went to Washington D.C. We were able to go to the Smithsonian of American History and talk with one of the curators of the pop culture exhibit about his favorite piece that he has acquired for the Smithsonian and how he was able to get such a cool job. The students were very interested in what he had to say because he not only talked about the older pieces of pop culture that he had been able to work with, but also about the new pieces from popular athletes, YouTube sensations, and current movies that the Smithsonian was hoping to acquire to put in the new Pop Culture Exhibit that will open in the year 2018.

After an early morning, the students got to stand in front of an object that they had been researching that was in the American Stories Exhibit and give a report about how each specific object had influenced, and is still influencing, our culture today. After this we were able to walk, as a class, to all of the different monuments around the National Mall. It was neat to watch the students as they interacted with the nation’s capital and all of the important monuments. They students were able to view each of these breathtaking monuments through the lens of pop culture.

As we enter into the last week of VAMPY, Mr. Mitchell and I are looking forward to watching the students grow in their interest of pop culture. We hope that the students can leave our class with a new view on pop culture and how different things can affect the culture as a whole.