Britt Oates has always had a natural curiosity for discovering new and exciting things in the world around her. As a young girl, she would dig for hidden treasure at the playground or while swimming underwater in the pool. Her curiosity likely blossomed after watching one of her all-time favorite movies, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. As Britt got older, her scientific inquiry developed into a deep inquisitiveness in topics surrounding the development of human societies and cultures, both in the ancient past and modern world. So, it’s no surprise that Britt’s passion for discovery led her to pursuing higher education in anthropology.
Britt’s love of anthropology led her to explore career opportunities at science centers. She applied to the California Science Center in May 2013 and joined the guest services department. For the first five years, Britt devoted her time to educating guests about the fun experiences to be had while exploring the variety of science exhibits and programs available. As a guest services supervisor, Britt blended her passion for learning about ancient civilizations with educating guests on their significance throughout history, all while leading a devoted team of guest services hosts.
Some of Britt’s favorite special exhibitions were those that excited her interest in anthropology. The first was the 2014-2015 special exhibition Pompeii, and the second was the 2018-2019 special exhibition King Tut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh. The King Tut exhibition was an especially incredible opportunity for Britt because anyone who knows her knows that from an early age, Britt has had a fascination with learning about the amazing achievements and contributions born out of the ancient Egyptian empires. During the run of the King Tut exhibition, Britt had deep conversations with Egyptian curators and museum professionals, she conducted VIP tours, and the best part of all, she was given close up views of some of the most beautiful ancient artifacts she had only ever dreamed about! Britt remembers, “I was even referred to as the Science Center’s own amateur Egyptologist, an unofficial title I proudly accepted!”
While working with guest services, Britt volunteered with the exhibit development department on some of her days off. Her work lead to being offered the position of program coordinator. One of Britt’s greatest professional accomplishments was for the work she did as program coordinator for the 2019-2020 Dogs! A Science Tail Exhibition. The exhibit explored the science behind the human/dog bond and how this relationship evolved throughout history. Britt was in charge of developing and coordinating live animal demonstrations and participated in various design meetings with the in-house exhibit development team and various pet organizations. She built memorable working relationships with nearly a hundred local organizations and agencies including Canine Companions for Independence, California Highway Patrol, On the Lamb Herding, Los Angeles Animal Services, Best Friends Animal Society, spcaLA, Wallis Annenberg Petspace, and many more!
Britt is now special exhibits coordinator and works closely with key team members such as curators, exhibit developers and the operations team as well as contractors to develop engaging exhibit programs. One of her favorite projects while working in exhibit development involved working with the aerospace science curators and team to help restore damaged areas of the fabric wings of the Douglas DC-3 aircraft artifact. Over the course of a few months, Britt accompanied the team to the south end of the LAX airport where the aircraft is currently being displayed at the Flight Path Museum and Learning Center. They used restoration equipment and materials to patch up the areas where the fabric had worn.
“I have gotten the opportunity to work on several incredible projects, but I think the one that stands out the most so far was on the restoration of the Douglas DC-3 for our future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. I loved this project because it felt like a scientific expedition!” -Britt Oates
One of Britt’s favorite galleries is the World of Life gallery. On her first day as a guest services employee, she was assigned to assist guests in that gallery. She loves the way the World of Life exhibits show the connections among all living things. It's the perfect blend of physical anthropology, biology, zoology, and technology, all areas of study which made Britt fall in love with science in the first place!
One of Britt’s favorite exhibits in the World of Life gallery is the Body Works Theater, which contains Tess, a 50-foot robotic woman. Tess helps explain how our bodies maintain homeostasis, or balance among all of our internal systems. Britt developed a fun activity that anyone can do at home to learn about balance:
Challenge: Balancing Act!
How well can you keep things in balance? Think of this like a game of Jenga. If just one piece is out of balance, the whole puzzle is bound to fall apart! Now let’s put those balancing skills to the test with this fun hands-on challenge!
Get 5 books/magazines/small box-like objects of different sizes.
Stack the objects on top of each other from largest on the bottom to smallest on the top. Are they balanced? Is the stack wobbly?
Get 5 more items of different sizes and this time stack them with the smallest at the bottom and the largest at the top. What additional objects can be used to help keep the stack in balance?
Keep stacking! How many objects can you balance before the stack collapses?