"Midway Magic" was a term known throughout the Navy during the USS Midway's 47-year career as an aircraft carrier. No other carrier served as long or with such distinction as the Midway, from its commissioning in 1945 to its flagship days in Desert Storm. In fact, the carrier is back in service today in San Diego, CA, as a unique floating museum and education center. At the helm of its education programs is Sara M. Hanscom '77, using her own brand of magic to teach children math, science, and social studies.
Three years ago, Sara came aboard the Midway and took on the assignment of creating its school and overnight education programs. Although Sara has been in museum education since first discovering the field when she was an undergraduate at Wheelock, and she has worked in major cities as far away as New Delhi, she ranks her Midway post as the creative opportunity of a lifetime.
Wheelock helped set Sara on her career path. "If it had not been for Wheelock's guidance and support, I would not have entered my career," she said. "Wheelock makes learning come alive-I don't know of any other school that does that. Your professors actually know who you are. You aren't just a number on a piece of paper."
Sara uses the USS Midway Museum as a tool to develop real-life hands-on learning experiences that she feels too many children are missing. "Kids in earlier generations could go home from school and immediately apply what they had learned because they were cooking in the kitchen or working in the family store or on the farm," she explains. "It's harder for kids today to see the practical applications of some subjects, especially math."
"The carrier is really a floating city and its operations-including how the electrical and radar systems work, how the planes fly, the importance of understanding weather-offer amazing real-life applications of math and science that tap kids' imaginations," she says. "The Midway went on many rescue and humanitarian missions, so we ask kids to figure out how many beds could be put in the hangar bay. For kids who don't see the point of math-Aha!-suddenly it has a very important purpose."