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Our playful teachers Ileana Vokel, Olivia Cushing and Maria Snideman have a world of experience working with young children and providing fun inquiry based creative hands-on learning activities.

Ileana Vokel

photo of Ileana

Ileana Vokel loves to help design and implement museum installations, programs and events whenever she can. She teaches, designs and organizes our camps, workshops, weekly programs and community outreach programs specifically for Spanish speaking families. Ileana attends trainings at major children’s museums across the nation and is a member of the Science without Boundaries early learning consortium lead by the St. Lous Science Center. She attends annual teacher trainings in science at the Exploratorium in San Francisco and any other kind of workshop on science, child development and special needs that she can find. Her favorite learning experience at the Exploratorium teacher workshops, is learning the endless possibilities there are in creating a chain reaction project. Her studies at INSPEE (Instituto Superior del Profesorado de Educacion Especial) Buenos Aires-Argentina focus on teaching mentally challenged and hearing impaired children. She is a fluent Spanish and English speaker and fluent in sign language. She knows every child learns differently and is able to lovingly support each child’s learning style.


Maria Snideman

Maria Snideman has been organizing and creating exhibits at the museum for over 10 years as a volunteer and staff member. With a MA in Child Development from Boston University, and many years as a classroom teacher, Maria helps us make exciting learning projects that specifically focus on the healthy development of children. If we are doing something new and exciting, it’s because Maria is constantly researching and giving us new ideas and working on advancing our curriculum and adding innovative teaching techniques.


Olivia Cushing

photo of Ileana

Olivia has a BS in Environmental Conservation and Sustainability from the University of New Hampshire. While earning her degree she was fortunate enough to volunteer with child development programs and schools within the community as well as for organizations in other far off locations including Alaska and New Zealand. Her adventures led her to Truckee as an AmeriCorp at Incline Elementary School, where she helped to develop and implement a Kindergarten through Fifth grade aligned science curriculum, as well as aid science in the classroom, coordinate field trips, create programs, and insure the future of a strong science program for Incline Elementary School.To stay on top of the ever-changing needs of school learning, she participates in Next Generation Science for teachers courses at Exploratorium whenever possible. Besides teaching science labs, art workshops and early learning programs, she is a teacher assistant for our summer Watershed Science Camp.