Published On: Sun, Aug 7th, 2016

National Air and Space Museum

Again, Najwa asked if we could go to the National Air and Space Museum. Again, how can anyone say no to your child wanting to go to a museum?

The main attraction at the museum for Najwa is the How Things Fly exhibit. We’ve been there enough times that I’d think she’d get bored of the gadgets, but she plays around and explores as if it’s her first time.

At this activity, you blow the air between two suspended balls. Logic says the balls will move away from each other because of the air, but because the air changes the air pressure between the balls, they come closer together. Not sure if Najwa gets it, yet, but we’ll keep coming back until she does.

Two balls, pressure in middle makes them come together

Najwa in the model airplane

Najwa the pilot


I have Najwa read these laws whenever we’re here. If you asked her about them, she won’t remember a word, but seeds are planted.




Understanding pressure with liquids


This next activity is to show how two balls falling towards the ground, though one is falling straight down and the other is at an angle, they both land at the same time. Najwa knows this activity well, but unfortunately one of the balls was missing. So Najwa took it upon herself to find it.

We didn’t find it.

Najwa's not supposed to be up there

Najwa and I have also visited this activity several times. It compares weight of different materials, all the same size and shape. But this time, it made me think about when Najwa met Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna at the Intel Science Talent Search held at the National Geographic Society. I remember one of the scientists at her booth talking about her project and how the use of graphite is becoming more common, or something like that. I just thought about it because one of the materials Najwa was lifting was graphite.

Najwa lifting heaviest weight

Heavy weights

Explaining those heavy weights


There’s a scale where you can see your weight on other celestial bodies. Najwa currently weighs in the mid-50 pound range, but on Jupiter, which we recently found out was her favorite planet, she would weigh in the mid-130 pound range.

Najwa's weight on Jupiter

At one of the other exhibits, you can listen to a recording of what it sounds like on Jupiter. Of course, it just sounds like radio static, but it’s coming from Jupiter.

Listening to Jupiter

American Airlines back in the day

Cornelius Coffey

If Najwa becomes a pilot, I’m all for it. Just read a great book about being a pilot called Skyfaring; very fascinating the life they live.

So, she should learn a bit about pilot history. In one of the exhibits, she was introduced to Cornelius Coffey.

Cornelius Coffey was an African American aviator. He was the first African American to create a non-university-affiliated aeronautical school in the United States. He was the first African American to hold both a pilot’s and a mechanic’s license. Coffey helped integrate African American pilots into the American aviation industry. He worked with his good friend John C. Robinson. Together, they formed the Challenger Air Pilots Association. He opened the Coffey School of Aeronautics in Robbins, IL with Willa Brown that helped train many African American pilots, including some of the Tuskegee Airmen.

And then we visited the Wright Brothers exhibit, which took on a completely different meaning than our first visit to the exhibit. This past Memorial Day weekend, we spent the weekend in the Outer Banks and visited the very place where man first took flight.

Wright Brothers Exhibit

Model Wright Brother Glider

There’s a small section in the Wright Brothers exhibit with music from that time about aviation. Old school music, as in 100 year old music. Somehow, Najwa found a way to dance to it.

For the future of air and space, maybe one day this model of the USS Enterprise will be more of a remembering man’s achievement rather than man’s imagination.

USS Enterprise

Najwa - end of day

At LEnfant Plaza Metro

Finally, we’re on our way back home.

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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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