PacSci Perspectives

Volunteer Spotlight: Judith Vissel

by | Oct 12, 2016

Volunteering at Pacific Science center is both a unique opportunity and an integral part to operations at Pacific Science Center. We had a chat with, Judith Vissel, a college student working to become a nuclear physicist, to learn what makes volunteering at Pacific Science Center so rewarding.

What do you get to see at Pacific Science Center that guests don’t?
Volunteers get to see exhibits more frequently and often earlier. I got to see Art of the Brick early—it was actually for an assignment! Because we’re working with the exhibits, we get a better idea of how they’re received. We’ll adjust exhibits accordingly.

What’s been your favorite “guest moment,” or interaction?
Last week, we had a bubble machine going near the high rail bike. I saw a young boy (probably two or three) who was with is parents, in a stroller. He looked very grumpy at first, but his parents let him out to play with the bubbles. He got so excited—he chased them and tried to pop every single one. It was great to see a guest get so excited about the exhibits. I love the diversity of material, and how many different people they can appeal to.

What’s your favorite part of volunteering at Pacific Science Center?
Once again, the diversity of the audience. As a volunteer, you get to meet guests from so many different nationalities, age groups and overall backgrounds. On any given day, you’ll meet someone from a new place, who relates to the exhibits in a different way. That feedback provides both feedback for the exhibits, and gives me the chance to learn something new, too.

What is your favorite exhibit that people might not know about?
I think a lot of people forget about the moveable parts and exhibits. For example, the other day, I had some extra time and I got to touch a sheep’s brain! I’ve also gotten to experiment and play with circuit boards. These exhibits often fade into the background, but they’re some of the most applicable and informative.

Share some interesting facts about yourself!
I graduated from high school when I was 13 and started college courses when I was 14. I like to cook (without causing explosions, if I can help it), and I practice Krav Maga (a self-defense martial art). I’m also an older sister.

What’s your favorite science fiction book or movie and why?
That’s a tough one. I’d have to say Stark Trek: The Original Series. It’s my favorite because they take real science concepts, like anti-matter, and make them more exciting by adding fictional elements like red matter. It’s rooted in real science, but it’s creativity makes the ideas even more exciting. Did you know that Star Trek actually influenced some of our modern technology? In the 1960’s, someone who worked at Motorola was jealous of Captain Kirk’s communicator. He used that idea to create the prototype for the modern cell phone! Art and entertainment have a profound impact on science.

What’s your favorite gadget?
That’s another tough choice. I would have to say my cell phone, actually. I use it to keep in contact with my friends and family, and to keep up-to-date on my schoolwork. It’s interesting that the prototype inspired by Star Trek is now essential to our everyday lives.

How do you use science in your everyday life?
Besides in my schoolwork? Well, we all use science, all the time whether we realize it or not. Navigating our cars to prevent them from crashing, cooking (without setting the kitchen on fire) and even pestering your friends with fun facts. I use science all the time.