International Spy Museum Educator Intel

Dates to Remember:

Sunday, March 16
SPY at Maker Fare

Summer Teacher Workshops
(Book your own)

Thursday, October 2
Educators Night Out

EDucation INTelligence: International Spy Museum

How do we know if we're actually making difference in the lives of our learners? Now that's the question that we struggle with constantly as educators, isn't it? In museums we are challenged with seeing our learners for brief periods of time. A two-hour or half day program is a luxury we rarely have. Most frequently we have 45 minutes, for our student workshops. How can we create meaningful and lasting experiences in 45 minutes with students we've never met before and likely won't ever see again? Yeah, we can hook them easily… we are about spying after all! They come excited and ready to see cool stuff and maybe even think like a spy. But then what? What are the messages, questions, feelings, and ideas we want them to leave with? SPY workshops are designed to immerse learners into a world where they are challenged to do, think, and act like a spy. We want to move them into that uncomfortable, gray world where there may not be one right answer and problem-solving can result in life or death outcomes (not really, but the intensity is evoked). Whether it's coming up with a technical solution to assist an agent in the field or analyzing a U-2 photograph to advise the President, our ultimate goal is to get students to actively think, make decisions, weigh outcomes, and leave with a sense that spying is not only what you see in movies and on TV. Is Snowden a traitor or a whistleblower? Does the Government have a right to spy on its own citizens in the name of national security? In our complex world, preparing students to think critically about these questions is our duty. Are we doing this? You decide.

Thanks for spying on us!

Jacqueline V. Eyl
Youth Education Director


The Museum is entering its tween years. Opening almost twelve years ago, we launched our KidSpy public programming just three short months after opening followed by our student and teacher workshops and most recently our distance learning programs. Our target audience has always been the 10 to 13 year olds and therefore those first “recruits” who came through workshops, Spy Camp and overnights are now in their twenties. Thousands of children have come through our programs but rarely do we have the opportunity to track them through their growing up years and see if we've had any impact on their lives. One such exception is a young man, named Kyle, who was just 10 years old when he attended his first SPY program. He then attended Spy Camp and after that he became our first ever SpIT (Spy in Training) in our teen program. Now, he is a full-fledged contract staff member assisting in overnights, workshops, festivals and Spy Camp. Sir Veillance (our youth mascot) took a moment to interview Kyle - and here's what he uncovered:

SV: I know you were only ten years old when you first came to the Spy Museum for a program. What do you remember?

KB: When Dame Stella Rimington, the first female Director-General of Great Britain's MI5, came to the Museum for an intimate discussion of her historic career in intelligence, I thought it was the coolest thing!  I do not remember much of what she actually said about her distinguished career, but at the end of the lecture we purchased her autobiography and I was able to get her to sign it and I got a photo with her. I had never met, or was even in the same room with someone of such prominence, so that was, and remains, a big highlight for me.

SV: That's really cool that you were so young and so interested in meeting a real former “spy.” What do you remember being a "recruit" at Spy Camp?

KB: I have a lot of great, fun memories of Spy Camp. What I remember about my time as a recruit was how real the experience felt; it wasn't James Bond or Hollywood espionage or your typical summer camp it was tradecraft that was used, and still is used, in the world of intelligence. The experience of going on missions on the streets of the nation's capital was just so cool, in addition to visiting FBI Headquarters!  I remember the excitement and sense of accomplishment at the end of the week as our operation came to a successful close.

SV: What made you decide to become a teen volunteer?

KB: I chose to apply for the SpIT (Spy in Training) program because it sounded like a good opportunity for me and I was excited that I would get to be on the other side of Spy Camp. I had such an awesome time as a "recruit", I couldn't wait to get back involved, share my enthusiasm for Camp, and help make new recruits' experience as awesome as mine was.

SV: Now, as a staff member on contract, looking back on your experiences at the Spy Museum, how do you think it influenced you?

KB: Going through programs at SPY and becoming a member of staff has had a profound influence on my life. The people I've met and work with, the things I've learned not just about espionage but the greater intelligence community and national security, has really made clear the importance of intelligence and the sacrifice operations officers make for our great country. Now attending George Mason University, I'm studying Government & International Politics and am planning to go into the national security field.

SV: Any words of advice for other young recruits?

KB: Be smart. Have fun. Make wise choices. That goes for life in addition to espionage operations. Specifically for when you're out in the field: have a good and seasoned training officer (hahaha), work well with others, go unnoticed (be quiet!), be prepared for anything, and have the ability to think on your feet, trust no one.

Kyle undercover as a recruit:
Spy Camp 2008
Kyle on Staff:
Spy Camp 2013
Targeting Osama Bin Laden

We are developing an intelligence analysis workshop in which students are placed in the shoes of the analyst trying to track down Osama Bin Laden after 9/11. In this workshop, students will be issued puzzle pieces. They will work together to fit both the “clues” regarding Bin Laden's location and the actual photo of the puzzle together. In the end, the goal is for them to understand how very difficult intelligence analysis is and the type of thinking and understanding that goes on when trying to solve an analytical puzzle. We will be testing the workshop this spring and launching it next school year. We also hope it will evolve into a free lesson plan that teachers can use in their classroom. We'll keep you posted!

This is a new addition to the Spy Museum's collection. While it may not look like a spy camera, given its size, this K-20 camera was one of the mainstays of American aerial photography during World War II and continued in service through the early days of the Cold War. Some 15,000 of these handheld cameras were produced. The K-20 produced 4"x5" negatives on a 200 foot long roll of film. During the War, its most common use was for bomb damage assessment and it was routinely carried on bombers in both the European and Pacific theaters. Future President George H. W. Bush used a K-20 camera on his Navy torpedo bomber. It's not currently on view to the public, but it will be used for teaching soon.

Cold War


Artifacts in the Spy Museum are a great springboard for for discussion and learning back in the classroom. Here are some of the ideas to get you started:

  • Research the history of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). What was its original purpose? How did its function change over time? Does it still exist? Make a chart comparing the powers and actions of the HUAC to modern day congressional committees on intelligence.

  • Hold a debate between American and Soviet “representatives” about the role of domestic spy organizations (like the FBI and the Cheka) in protecting national security at home. How did the Communist and Democratic views on this differ?

  • What evidence was used to convict the Rosenbergs? Explore the VENONA documents on to discover what the government revealed 40 years after the case was closed. Reopen the case in your classroom and debate the Rosenbergs’ innocence or guilt.
  • Investigate the history of a famous Cold War double agent or mole. Develop a psychological profile of the spy, and try to explain why he/she chose to spy and how he/she ultimately felt about that choice. Find spy choices here.
Eyes Only!

Image Fpo1

Explore our Educational Resources available on our website. Your students can prepare themselves for their missions at the Museum or debrief on what they learned. We know time is limited which is why we have designed these activities to be easy to teach and address National Standards of Learning.

Spy Term!
Dry Clean:
Actions agents take to determine if they are under surveillance. _learn More


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