Explainers Program

Explainer Program Coordinator

Send your resume and cover letter to NASMHRHiring@si.edu These positions will close on April 24, 2019 at 5:00pm. 


The Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM) seeks two program coordinators to manage the Explainers program. The Explainers Program hires high school and college students to help visitors better understand the Museum’s artifacts and exhibitions through hands-on programming. Explainers work at both National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

These positions are located in the Education Department and are responsible for conceiving, developing, and implementing an Explainers Program that supports the museum’s public programs.  The coordinators are responsible for selecting and providing leadership and direction to the 40 to 70 part-time Explainers, ensuring they are adequately prepared and supervised to maintain the high standards of accuracy and integrity of the Smithsonian and NASM. The positions will work at the museum in Washington, DC and Chantilly, Virginia.

Major Duties

Explainers Program Coordinators are responsible for the recruitment, coordination, management, training and evaluation of Explainers.

Coordinators have the following major responsibilities:

  • Recruit and hire a qualified and diverse group of Explainers.
  • Manage the day-to-day operations of the program, including scheduling.
  • Prepare and deliver training to Explainers and evaluate Explainers’ performance within the program.
  • Develop new programs and provide instruction to adapt existing ones to reflect current knowledge and practices in learning methods, audience dynamics, and teaching practices.
  • Evaluate programs to ensure they meet the needs of the museum and its audiences.
  • Coordinate the collaborative efforts of the Explainer program staff, establishing, implementing and maintaining policies and procedures that ensure the smooth operation of the Explainers Program.
  • Maintain records of all Explainer activity, including tracking hours, program attendance, and programs delivered.


  • Ability to communicate effectively verbally and in writing to audiences of all ages, including an ability to communicate and collaborate with individuals from museums, cultural organizations and businesses. 
  • Knowledge of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education sufficient to develop learning programs related to the museum’s collections, exhibitions, and research.
  • Experience delivering educational programs in a formal or informal setting, preferably in a museum or cultural institution.
  • Knowledge of education theory and teaching practices related to informal education environments (e.g. museums, observatories, science centers, planetariums, etc.) in order to develop museum education programs for culturally diverse audiences.
  • Ability to evaluate the content, format, and delivery methods of education programs in order to use evaluation results to modify and improve programs for museum audiences.
  • High level of organization to coordinate elements of the Explainers Program, including maintaining complex schedules and activity records. 
  • Program management skills in order to maintain records of all program expenses and to ensure that recommended expenditures are made within budget guidelines
  • Problem solving strategies to facilitate the resolution of issues that arise within the program.


Basic Requirement:

Degree: Bachelor's degree (or higher degree) that included or was supplemented by at least 24 semester hours in a field related to the work of the position.

OR Combination of Education and Experience: At least 24 semester hours in a field related to the work of the position. The experience must have demonstrated (1) a thorough knowledge of the principles underlying the work of this position, and (2) understanding, both theoretical and practical, of the methods and techniques applied in performing work in this position.

OR Specialized Experience: Three years of specialized experience, which includes delivering STEM education programs in an informal education setting. This definition of specialized experience is typical of work performed at the next lower grade/level position in the federal service (GS-7 or above).

Physical Demands

Physical demands may occasionally require visits to off-site locations.  Physical demands may also require occasional work outdoors throughout the year, including winter and summer, not in a climate-controlled environment.  Otherwise, the position requires normal demands of office work with lifting, bending, and walking.

Work Environment

Coordinators work in an office and a museum environment, as well as outdoors in non-climate controlled environments.  This position requires working most weekends and often evening and holiday hours.

Pay Scale and Grade

This position a Trust position, equivalent to the GS-9 level. It is a Not to Exceed (NTE) position of one year, with possibility for extension, based on grant funding. There is no supervisory status or promotion potential.


Send your resume and cover letter to NASMHRHiring@si.edu These positions will close on April 24, 2019 at 5:00pm. 

Student Jobs — Explainers Program
Explainers at the National Air and Space Museum inspire life-long learners by connecting them to our iconic artifacts and to stories about the science and technology that make innovation possible. The Explainers Program hires high school and college students to help visitors better understand the Museum’s artifacts and exhibitions through hands-on programming. Explainers work at either the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC or at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Send questions to: NASM-ExplainersProgram@si.edu

The Explainers program is made possible through the generous support of GE Aviation.

Explainer Duties
Explainers engage visitors with hands-on activity carts and interactive demonstrations on topics such as the forces of flight and humans in orbit. Explainers also respond to visitor questions submitted to the How Things Fly website. There’s even the chance to teach people how to land a space shuttle or show them how a space shuttle toilet works!

Explainers are scheduled to work at the Museum in DC seven days a week and at the Udvar-Hazy Center weekends and holidays. Hours at each location are flexible according to your academic schedule.


To be an Explainer, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age
  • Currently be enrolled in a diploma or degree granting program
  • Maintain a 2.7 GPA
  • Work at least 15 hours per month
  • Be able to interact with diverse groups of people
  • Have good written and oral communication skills
  • Be willing to attend ongoing training and conduct self-study in general scientific principles relating to aeronautics and space science

High school students start as volunteer Explainers. After completing 100 volunteer hours, high school students may be considered for paid status based on their performance. College students begin as paid employees.

Application Procedure:

To be considered for a position as an Explainer, you must submit the following items:

  • completed application form
  • A Statement of Purpose — How can you contribute to the program and how would this job assist you in your career and/or educational goals?
  • An official high school or college transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Indication of which location you are applying to

To be an Explainer you must be a United States citizen with a photo ID, a naturalized citizen with proper documentation, or a non-citizen with proper INS authorization to work in the United States.

An interview will be scheduled after the application package has been received.

Please Note: Incomplete application packages will not be processed or considered.

For additional information or to submit recommendations seperately, email NASM-ExplainersProgram@si.edu.

Apply for the Explainers Program now >