March 15, 2018
2017 was a transition year for the American Precision Museum as we began the first steps to implement our Board’s exciting new Transformation Plan. During my first few months last summer as new Education Director I had an opportunity to participate in all of the Museum’s wonderful activities including the annual Model Engineer Show where I had the pleasure of meeting many of you. I received much feedback and input from participants, visitors, and vendors. I learned a great deal.
This year, in order to meet our stated mission, and further the goals of the Board’s new Transformation Plan, to link the past with the present and to be inspired by the future, we are developing a new education and interpretive plan for 2018.
Here are some of the things you will see in 2018:
We began these efforts in February with a very successful event called “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day”. Eight professional women engineers from several fields of engineering met with and presented to and inspired a crowd of 50 girls of all ages, (and a man or two). The museum lobby was packed!
We will also be moving the date of the Model Engineer show to Saturday, August 18. This will benefit the museum in a number of ways:
Junior Machinist Apprentice Program “inducts” 5 more apprentices.
Every Saturday morning in September the new Junior Machinist Apprentice Program has added more 8-14 year olds to the roster of Junior Apprentice.
Five more were added on September 9 in our Saturday morning program here at the museum. The week before, three boys, and one 6 ½ year old assisted by his mother, completed the program. Participants are from as far away as Brattleboro and Hanover, as well as Springfield and Windsor.
New Education Events
When: Every Saturday in September.
Time: 10AM – 11:30AM
Where: Meet in the Museum Learning Lab
Join our Education Director in a Junior Machinist Apprentice program from 10am to 11:30. No reservations required. Suitable for ages 6-12.
The program includes scavenger hunts in the museum, history lessons, design drawing and building activities. Children who complete the program will be awarded a special “Junior Apprentice” gear made in the Museum’s 3D-Maker and Charter Membership in the American Precision Museum Junior Machinist Apprentice Club.
Parents and grandparents are welcome and encouraged to participate.
August 8, 2017 - Scott Davison
On Sunday, August 7 a young man named Owen, 13 years old, visited the museum with his grandfather and completed the very first Junior Apprentice Program. This is a new offering designed to interest and engage young people in our museum and its history of machines, and meaning. It is a self-guided, task oriented program modeled after the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger programs.
Upon completion (it takes about an hour) he was presented with the very first Junior Apprentice Gear, which was designed and ‘printed’ in our working machine shop on our 3-D printer.
A frameable certificate, indicating his accomplishment, and naming him as the “First Charter Member of the American Precision Museum Junior Apprentice Club,” was also presented to him in a ceremony in which he recited the Junior Apprentice Oath in front of the historic Bridgeport #1 milling machine.
I don’t know who was more excited, Owen for getting the Apprentice Gear, or me for seeing his joy in doing well.
Working with young people is always enlightening and fun. Many of the most important things we learn in life can be learned from them if we are patient and listen.
In this instance, in the process of working to complete the Junior Apprentice booklet young Owen asked if he “had to do the ‘design a new machine’ task because it’s for little kids.” He told me he was really more interested in improving an existing machine.
It’s really interesting and inspiring that Owen had the same idea that our predecessors at Lawrence and Robbins had. While they did create new machines, much of their success in pushing the evolution of machine tools and manufacturing was to make radical and ingenious improvements to an existing machine or manufacturing process.
Ask the young. They may not have solutions that are perfect, because they don’t have long experience or wisdom gained by failure, however, they are often able to see novel solutions because their vision isn’t clouded by the habits of experience and they are often not afraid of learning by sometimes failing. And they always ask questions!
This experience also reminded me of the importance of intergenerational programs. Owen was brought here by his grandfather who although not familiar with the industry we represent realized that his grandson had a deep interest in making things and understanding how things work. It is important that the traditional practice of learning from our elders, the journeymen and women and masters of art and craft and science, is not lost. If we learn much we must be obligated to teach at least some of what we learned.
This program will continue throughout the summer. Anyone can visit and request the program booklet when we are open. Allow for an hour to complete the booklet. Also, every Saturday in September I will be guiding a Junior Apprentice program from 10am to 11:30. No reservations required.
On October 6, National Manufacturers Day, I will be conducting a special Junior Apprentice program in collaboration with the Windsor Public Library. This one will require reservations as space is limited. In all of these programs parents and grandparents are welcome.