Little Eyes Toward the Sky

USGIF’s Young Professionals Group inspires youth at Spy Fest


On May 18, more than 400 people visited the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. and pretended to be a spy for the day. At Spy Fest, an annual family spy festival, participants are immersed in the spy experience by dressing in disguise and enjoying mini-missions and demonstrations. USGIF’s Young Professionals Group (YPG) taught attendees about satellites and imagery using an entertaining and educational approach.

USGIF set up three interactive stations at its “Eyes in the Sky” display, inviting families to learn about GEOINT in a fun and creative way. YPG members taught participants the basics of a satellite’s structure and its capabilities. Volunteers also showed children satellite images on tablets and guided them in identifying the location of each picture, which included the Egyptian pyramids, ground zero, and the Washington Monument.

After analyzing imagery, children made their own model satellites using everyday household items, such as toilet paper rolls, paper plates, pipe cleaners, and aluminum foil. Many added their own unique flair to the models by coloring with markers and decorating with stickers. Families also had the opportunity to watch an introductory video about GEOINT and take home a satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe of northwest Washington, D.C., during peak cherry blossom season.

“We were very excited to participate in Spy Fest for a third year,” said Carrie Drake, USGIF’s event operations & community relations manager, as well as the coordinator for YPG. “This was a great opportunity to give kids a glimpse into the GEOINT Community and to get them excited about the many possible paths to becoming a GEOINT professional.”

Two Girl Scout troops also stopped by USGIF’s presentation. Not only did children learn about satellite imagery, but many adults learned new information as well.

Children who attended Spy Fest selected spy disguises to wear as they participated in various activities.

Nine-year-old Benjamin and his mother traveled from New York to tour Washington, D.C., and participated in Spy Fest during their visit to the museum.

“I liked putting together the satellites and learning about the imagery,” said Benjamin.

“We’re trying to explain the importance of satellites to kids,” said Jennifer Stansall, a YPG member and senior account manager with DigitalGlobe. “It’s a fun event where they can look at the images, analyze them, and be able to take them home.”

Ten-year-old friends Jessica and Grace made model satellites together.

“It was really cool because we got to do a lot of hands-on stuff,” one of the girls said.

YPG member Gaby Maldonado said she was pleased with the level of engagement the group had at the event this year.

“Last year we only had a presentation on satellite imagery, so this year was a lot more interactive and fun for the kids,” Maldonado said.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also participated in Spy Fest, offering opportunities to meet a police K-9, a ninja, and a real-life spy.

Featured image: USGIF YPG member Alex Martinez shows children a model satellite and helps them analyze satellite imagery of Washington, D.C.


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