Turn Up At Dallas Love Field Reaches New Heights
Outside the Frontiers of Flight Museum, a group of laughing kids gathered around a bright green fire truck, squealing as the fire fighters misted them with water. Inside the museum, a boy with a summer crew cut approached the famed Apollo 7 command module and marveled, “An escape pod!” Another watched a robot that takes apart bombs. Meanwhile, a couple of volunteers in their eighties mingled with second and third graders and their parents, sharing tales of flying fighter jets and helicopters during wartime. It was all part of the Dallas City of Learning Turn Up! at Love Field that took place on August 1—the sixth in a series of seven engaging, educational and inspiring summertime events.
Turn Up! events are one of the most popular components of the Dallas City of Learning initiative, which Big Thought launched last summer in partnership with Mayor Mike Rawlings. Dallas City of Learning is part of a groundbreaking national campaign that began in Chicago in 2013, and is now joined by major American cities including Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. Even more cities are making plans to launch in 2016. City of Learning is founded on the idea that learning happens all the time, across many different spaces. Dallas families seem to agree.
At the museum, Amanda and her two third-grade boys were checking out a bomb-sniffing police dog. She was impressed with the variety of free activities available this summer, especially since hers is a low-income family. “We’re trying to do everything with the Mayor’s City of Learning. We went to the one at the Central Library – they had a 3-D printer there! We’re also doing the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club. I’m trying to make their summer fun and educational and not break the bank. They’ve been having a lot of fun at all these events.”
That’s exactly what Guy Bruggeman, the Art and Program Coordinator City of Dallas Department of Aviation, likes to hear. He’s well aware of the importance of summer learning. “Especially with middle to lower income families—they don’t get to go to camps and stuff like that, so this is essentially a camp for them. They get to continue their education so they aren’t just sitting around watching TV and playing video games during the summer.”
Supported by more than 100 partner organizations, Dallas City of Learning connects kids with the things they love to do and helps them prepare for the future. They can explore their interests online or take part in exciting activities all around Dallas. Many children find their horizons broadened by these experiences.
Jason Treadway, Education Director for the Frontiers of Flight Museum has seen it firsthand. “Often when people think about aviation, the only thing they think about is being a pilot. But there are so many other careers that help support aviation, everything from business to mechanics to flight attendants. Visiting here opens kids’ eyes to possibilities they might not ever have considered.” He also recognizes the importance of providing kids with hands-on experiences that might not otherwise be available, like being inside an airplane. A nearby parent, Geolaina agreed. “I wanted my children to get a chance to learn about the history of the aircrafts, but also to get a chance to be inside them. They’ve never been inside an airplane before. And it’s free!”
Dallas City of Learning also builds community, connecting businesses and organizations with the families they serve. Bruggeman views the Turn Up! as a community engagement win. “This airport is located within a residential area, and so these are our neighbors. For us to be able to open up the airport and to let them get and experience of what the airport is and what we do… it helps us to be a better neighbor for them.”
This summer, more than 2,800 children and family members attended seven Turn Up! events in venues across the city, including Klyde Warren Park, the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, the Meadows Museum, Friendship-West Baptist Church and Fair Park. Among many other activities, kids helped create murals with the Catalyst Arts Movement, made pet toys with the SPCA and learned about 3-D printing with Best Buy’s Geek Squad and PolyPrinter. They also made a camera obscura, learned about counterfeit money, discovered the science behind color and participated in a two-day technology camp. Best of all, the learning continues year-round, with online and DYI challenges and after-school, weekend and holiday activities all around Dallas.
Outside the museum, a group of kids excitedly waited their turn to experience the fire truck close up. One young history buff said, “This is awesome! I like that there’s stuff to know about, like the bombing of Pearl Harbor.” Another enjoyed seeing his textbook come to life, noting “I know a lot of these airplanes from social studies, but then I got to see them here. They look different from the pictures—they’re bigger than I thought.” But one small boy was strictly focused on the task at hand. He bounced on his feet, wriggling with excitement, despite the August heat. Keeping his eye on the line of kids ahead of him he said, “I just really like the fire truck. I HAVE to go inside it!”