Smithsonian to Feature Fairfax Academy Pro Photo Program

STEM in 30 TV Show Episode to Feature Fairfax Academy

By Fairfax Academy
November 14, 2023

This October, Fairfax Academy’s Professional Photography Studio teacher, Mr. Kevin Smith, was invited by the Smithsonian to teach a lesson on photography basics to Katherine Johnson Middle School students at the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center for an episode of their STEM in 30 streaming educational TV program. 

STEM in 30 is an Emmy-nominated program for middle school students produced by the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. These innovative and behind-the scenes episodes are intended to be used as an engaging classroom resource. New episodes are released throughout the year and feature hands-on activities, explanations of aviation and space topics aligned with national standards, and interviews with experts from the Museum and beyond. The show is hosted by science educators Beth Wilson and City of Fairfax's own Marty Kelsey.

Taping in front of Space Shuttle.

Photo Credit: Elliott (Pro Photo 2)

This episode, airing in November, will focus on the history of aerial photography, how a camera works, astronauts as photographers, learning from photographs of the Wright Brother's first flight, and connections with Smithsonian photographers. 

Teacher explains photo techniques.

Mr. Smith’s section targets photographic compositional fundamentals. Fairfax Academy students mentored KJMS students as they applied these techniques while taking pictures throughout the museum. Additionally, TV and Media Production students and their teacher, Mr. Balthrop, were welcomed to shadow the professional TV production team as they shot the episode. 

teacher and students on set

Focusing on photography fundamentals such as the rule of thirds, triangular design, and frame within a frame, the team was able to explore the empty museum after hours- a treat that very few people get the chance to experience! The shots captured using what they learned from Mr. Smith’s lesson will be shared with distinguished guests at a “Gallery Opening” at the Air and Space Museum, and then put on public display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. 

Work-Based Learning (WBL) provides students with a continuum of career-related experiences that extend classroom learning to support the development of career goals in preparation for education and employment beyond high school. WBL provides students with a solid foundation on which to build. 

Through a continuum of experiences, students:

  • Increase awareness of their post-secondary options.
  • Explore possible career pathways.
  • Prepare for their future.

Academy students participate in different methods of Work-Based Learning for career awareness, career exploration, and career preparation experiences.

This project allowed for collaboration between these CTE (Career and Technical Education) Academy courses and fostered several tiers of mentorship between KJMS students, Fairfax Academy Students, faculty, and the professional production team at the Smithsonian. This experience centered on exposure to career pathways and increased awareness of personal interests and talents related to careers in photography and video broadcasting and production. 

Students peruse photos.

The experience was facilitated by Fairfax Academy’s new Career Experience Specialist, Ms. Amy Hard. She serves as the liaison between local employers and Fairfax Academy students and cultivates the development of career experience and work-based learning opportunities. 

Those interested in exploring or offering work-based learning opportunities such as job shadows, field trips, guest artists/speakers, skills workshops, representation at college and career fairs, internships, service-learning opportunities, mentoring, or partnership/sponsorship should contact Amy Hard at @email or visit the Fairfax County Public Schools Work-Based Learning page.

Taping a TV show in the museum.

Photo credit: William (Pro Photo 2)