Take Your Child to Work Day Is on the Cusp of a Comeback

By Samuel Lopez, staff writer; photos from the SPGM archive
A young girl in mid-jump, about to land on the launch device for a paper rocket, while a woman watches

A child at the 2019 Take Your Child to Work Day, the last before the pandemic paused the tradition, prepares to launch a paper rocket.

Take Your Child to Work Day, a beloved pre-pandemic event, is poised to return to NCI Frederick this summer.

Past years saw the campus host as many as 300 children for a day of hands-on activities meant to illuminate scientific principles and inspire curiosity. Taking the chance to dabble in the sciences, the young visitors programmed miniature robots, sat awestruck during chemistry magic shows, ate as much liquid nitrogen ice cream as their parents would allow, and participated in dozens of other programs.

Tori Seal, the event’s lead coordinator this year, hopes to capture some of that excitement again.

“It's the possibility that this event’s coming back and just that reigniting of the appreciation and recognition, that the children hopefully leave the event with an appreciation for how much hard work as well as … intellect that their parents and guardians put in each day on campus,” said Seal, whose primary duties are as an education outreach specialist in the NCI Office of Scientific Operations (OSO).

If enough parents and children are interested in participating—and enough staff are interested in hosting a program—the date is set for Tuesday, June 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“This isn’t my vision. This isn’t OSO’s vision. This should be what the community foresees and wants,” Seal said. She also said that “an enormous amount of departments and individuals” have already expressed their excitement about the event’s return.

There’s still time to get involved, too. Registration to host a program closes officially on Tuesday, March 21, but OSO is able to accommodate employees who need more time to plan.

“By no means is there stress,” Seal said.

Seal and her colleagues aim to relieve pressure on program hosts. She has volunteered to help employees plan their programs, if needed. OSO can also connect employees with potential supplies or volunteers for their programs.

For those still brainstorming, Seal encourages borrowing inspiration from or resurrecting old programs, many of which were much-loved by children and parents alike. There’s a list of past programs on the Take Your Child to Work Day site. This newsletter has covered several past programs, as well.

Parents or guardians, meanwhile, can help the planning team gauge interest by pre-registering their child on the Take Your Child to Work Day website by Tuesday, April 18. Children ages 6–13 are eligible to participate in the event. If enough children are interested, registration for programs will begin later this spring.

Despite what the event’s name suggests, pre-registration isn’t limited just to employees’ children. Extended family, such as grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, are also welcome as long as the employee is able to accompany them throughout the day.

Take Your Child to Work Day historically saw participation from some of NCI Frederick’s neighbor institutions within the gates of Fort Detrick. This year, pre-registration is open to their children, too.

Seal encourages staff to contact her if they have questions or comments. As NCI Frederick blows three years’ worth of dust off the tradition, it may not look exactly as it did before, she said. COVID-19 and logistical factors remain.

Even so, she and her colleagues are trying to anticipate and mitigate as much as possible, and they’re taking the opportunity to listen to feedback.

And, of course, they’re grateful to all willing to sponsor a program or volunteer.

“I can’t emphasize enough my appreciation [for the staff] because it’s time out of their day that they’re taking,” Seal said. “This event isn’t possible without them.”

More information is available on the Take Your Child to Work Day website.


Samuel Lopez leads the editorial team in Scientific Publications, Graphics & Media (SPGM). He writes for newsletters; informally serves as an institutional historian; and edits scientific manuscripts, corporate documents, and sundry other written media. SPGM is the creative services department and hub for editing, illustration, graphic design, formatting, multimedia, and training in these areas.