While vacationing with my family in D.C., I was amazed by the wealth of free information available to the general public. You could literally spend an entire day exploring one of the many Smithsonian museums, The National Archives, or any of the other tourist attractions at our nation’s capital. My inner writer could not resist the opportunity to gather current information on topics that I might be able to shape into future articles or stories.
Since my daughter is in my target age group – middle schoolers – I allowed her interests guide my choice of topics to gather information on. For example, at the National Museum of the American Indian, my daughter and I were fascinated to learn about the American Indian code talkers that used their native languages to served our country during World War II. Before leaving the museum, I collected brochures, a list of credible websites, and museum contacts that would be willing to help me continue my research.
Try incorporating a little informal research into your travel plans this summer. Here are a couple of ways to get started:
· Always stop at the concierge desk. Ask for available brochures and handouts.
· Sign up for guided tours. If possible, ask for contact information just in case you have future questions or need to find an interview contact.
· Take pictures of exhibits or other areas of interests.
· Photograph text information that accompanies exhibits/attractions
· Ask for a list of credible websites to use for further research
· When possible, gather primary source information
· Save and file all the information that you gather
· Visit the attractions’ website – there is often a wealth of information available online, including the names and contact information of experts on the subject