Hi! My name is Jen Tuttle Parsons and I’m the executive director of the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery. I’m also currently a PhD student in Instructional Technology at Ohio University, learning about how we use technology as teaching tools, but also about how to make informal learning experiences more inclusive and equitable.
How did you get involved with OVMoD?
When my family moved to Athens, I was looking for jobs within the educational sphere and happened upon an ad online for a museum education director! My background is in music education, so I was thrilled to hear that OVMoD uses a STEAM (STEM+Arts)-based approach.
What is your favorite museum exhibit/program?
So many! I like the physical pieces that we’ve had – exhibits like the Castle and Treasure Hunt and the big blue blocks, but also the collaborations and partnerships that we’ve formed all over the region. I really enjoy our makerspace type programing – the summer DiscoveryLab in Clippinger on Thursday nights and at the libraries. I appreciate that seemingly simple items we have (like the Keva planks) are used to create amazing and wonderful structures (and are great conversation starters). Teen Science Café has been a great opportunity for me to hand the reins over to some really dedicated youth. The STEM and STEAM nights held by our regional schools always introduce me to different people…Can I say all of them are my favorite?
What other museums do you enjoy?
Being from the Chicago area, I loved going to the Field Museum and Science and Industry as a child, as well as the Art Institute. Another favorite is the City Museum in St. Louis. It’s so interesting to explore and be active and it took us a couple trips to really appreciate all the little quirks hidden throughout. I’m also interested in how technology can help connect us all to places we haven’t been able to travel – sometimes I’ll take a quick virtual field trip to the Louvre!
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy walking or hiking with my dogs or being outside with my family. I’m an avid podcast listener and am always looking for new recommendations!
What do you like about our region?
I love the sense of community here. I enjoy the hiking trails and the coffee shops and the sense that there’s always something to do.
What makes you curious?
EVERYTHING. I think that’s a prerequisite for the job. The internet makes it easy to look up simple answers and I like being able to carry that in my pocket but I think the bigger questions are things that I learn from speaking with other curious people.
Who are your STEAM heroes?
Ada Lovelace and Jane Goodall and Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin and Katherine Johnson and Marin Alsop and Ida B. Wells and Leonard Bernstein and Temple Grandin and Vera Rubin and Mae Jemison and…
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Educator scientist philosopher inventor artist musician. Or a professional podcast recommender. Or a full-time student.
What is your favorite season?
Spring. I enjoy longer days and being able to be outside before the mosquitos and summer heat take over.
What’s on your bucket list?
I’d like to travel back to Japan, finish my PhD, learn something new every day, and give a TED talk.
What are your hopes for OVMoD in the future?
Of course I can’t wait until OVMoD is open full time in our new location on Columbus Road, but I also love that we continue to support and initiate educational transformations throughout the entire Southeast Ohio region. I hope that we can provide the spark of curiosity that encourages learners to go out and explore all the interesting things in the world around them!