Published On: Sun, Mar 6th, 2016

Back to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Though there’s so much to do at work, and I planned for this weekend to get caught up, Najwa threw me off when she greeted me in the morning with, “so where are we going today?” I’m not sure what I thought she was thinking, but when I asked, she said she wanted to go to the Air & Space Museum.

I thought about it for a moment. About what excuse I could come up with for not being able to go. About what I could say to get her to want to do something else instead, something that didn’t require leaving the house so I could get some work done. I thought long and hard, but I knew from the beginning that it was futile. When the little one wants to go to a museum, I just grab my shoes and off we go.

There’s a sign on the door that says no food and drinks in the museum. Considering we had a bag full of snacks, and my Mountain Dew, I explained to Najwa that she had to be real cute and reluctant (not that she knew what that meant) to see if they’ll let us in with our food. I told her that they were going to check her bag and see the food, so we’ll just get more when we left.

Clever little girl. She shoved her cookie in my jacket pocket thinking they wouldn’t check food not in a bag.

When she got to the metal detectors and they asked her to put her bag in the x-ray machine, she turned on her reluctance. Actually, she really was reluctant. At first she told them no. She wouldn’t let go of the bag. Looking sad, the guard asked why not, and I wasn’t sure at what point are they supposed to get suspicious even though it’s a little girl.

Najwa told her that there were snacks in the bag. The guard chuckled, promised her she could keep her snacks, but my goodness did it take a lot to get Najwa to part with her bag. Apparently, as long as the food is sealed it’s all good, though I had already tossed my Mountain Dew.

Anyway, on to the museum.


I knew the first stop was going to be the How Things Fly exhibit. There’s a lot of hands on activities for the kids, even if they don’t always get what’s going on. I made a mental note that we’ll have to bring Najwa back as she gets older and can understand lift, drag, friction, air pressure and everything else that explained the gadgets she was playing with but didn’t get. Yet.




One of the contraptions had three wind vane looking things spinning with different shapes on the ends. When you stopped spinning the crank and let them slow down, they slowed to a stop based on their shape. Najwa got that the one shaped with tear drops (like wings) would stop last, but she couldn’t grasp the concept of drag.

Another was blowing air between two suspended balls. Logic says that blowing air between the balls would make them go in opposite directions, away from each other, because of the air blowing between them. However, the balls moved toward each other, sticking to each other because the blowing air reduced the air pressure between them, allowing the greater air pressure on the other side of the balls to push them towards each other. Interesting.

Najwa’s inner explorer came out as she forced me to visit just about every single exhibit, no matter how boring (for a five year old). And when I thought I visited the museum enough times, she was introducing me to exhibits I didn’t realize I hadn’t visited before. The coolest, though, for both of us, was the flight simulators. We did the one launching the Hubble space telescope in space.


There was a quiz machine. It asked the same questions over and over. Najwa kept playing, memorizing the answers, until she got the quiz 100% correct on all the answers. Then she did it five or six more times, never seeming to tire from answering the same five questions. I don’t get her sometimes, but I just wait until she’s done.


I didn’t take a lot of pictures. She didn’t give me enough time to fully charge my phone before we left. I sure would’ve taken the picture of Najwa, while I ran to the bathroom, sitting on the ground eating her Cheetos! When I asked if she was trying to get us kicked out, she said don’t worry because the guard said it was OK.

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About the Author

David Gaines

- David Gaines is a Washington, DC, resident transplanted from North Carolina whose dream career was a newspaper writer but settled for the recruiting industry and simply blogging about whatever thoughts crosses his mind.

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