American Precision Museum
2018 Education Program Report
In our hands-on education programs offered to grades K-12, we encourage students to be active, but thoughtful users of technology. We strive to create practical opportunities for civic engagement, community responsibility, and mentoring for students to share what they have learned. Programs are centered in our Learning Lab, a year-round, multi-function space. We orient school-group visitors with
hands-on activities to deepen their understanding of the exhibits in the main hall. It is the place for
after-school, off-season, and summer weekend family activities, as well as workshops for adults.
With your generous support, we have not only achieved but exceeded our 2018 education goals including:
- To increase the number of students and summer camp visitors from 196 in 2017 to 400 in 2018.
- To increase the number of participating schools from 13 in 2017 to 20 in 2018.
- To increase partnerships with schools, colleges, and manufacturers to foster STEM career awareness.
- Adding nearly 60 youth to the roster of our Junior Apprentice Program, establishing a strong core of participants for our 2019 programs.
We achieved our goals! In addition, our “Introduce a Girl to an Engineer” day and the “Sustainability Speakers’ Series” added seven events and nearly 200 visitors. Our total program attendance more than doubled, increasing to nearly 800 in 2018 compared with 340 in 2017.
We will continue to improve our strong thematic approach to the museum’s education and interpretation programs which inspire visitors and students to develop stronger personal connections with the impact of manufacturing/technology evolution and innovation upon our social, economic, and natural environments.
The 2019 education and interpretation plans include some exciting events for students and adults:
- Winter school program offerings include onsite in our Learning Lab, or in-classroom workshops.
- We are working on finding professionals and experts for this summer’s Sustainability Speaker Series.
- A Partnership with Young Hacks Academy, to deliver three tech camps between April and August. Visit their website at https://younghacks.com/windsor-vt/ to find details or register for the camps.
- A renewed docent training program that will provide volunteers with wide and varied opportunities to tell our stories and/or work in our Learning Lab with students of all ages.
- We plan to repeat the successful Introduce a Girl to an Engineer event in February during National Engineering Week.
- Our 2nd Annual Summer Speakers’ Series will feature public programs in a facilitated dialogue format, thematically connecting the development of technology and manufacturing with solutions to climate change.
- “Jeffersonian Dinners” are a new event in 2019. It’s an opportunity for the museum to engage community members in an experience of civil and facilitated dialogue around a crucial current event or issue. The dialogue takes place over a tasty free dinner around a table with up to 12 participants.
- The popular Junior Apprentice Club will be offered once again – and improved! In 2018 we added over 60 members and debuted the Saturday Junior Apprentice Club program to introduce advanced STEM for club members. It included a weekly event for youth completing the Junior Apprentice program to engage in more advanced hands-on activities. Apprentices 16 and over will have the opportunity to join our Innovation Station working machine shop program as student volunteer interns, providing real-life experience working with machines and presenting to a pubic audience.
Working Machine Shop
If funding allows, we are seeking candidates for a seasonal skilled machinist position to assist with intern training and programs in the Innovation Station machine shop. For more than a decade, we’ve recruited, hired, and trained high school student interns to demonstrate historic machine tools, cutting metal in a subtractive process. Additive manufacturing is demonstrated using 3D printers. Our interns work alongside our staff, developing workplace readiness skills.
During the summer of 2018, our education partner Vermont Technical College loaned us:
- A portable lathe to make chess pieces which were sold in the gift shop and,
- Several interactive assembly challenges created by students.
In 2019 we plan to offer those items again to enhance our hands-on activities. In addition, we envision creating a product development component in which interns engage in the full manufacturing cycle by conceiving, designing, prototyping, manufacturing, and packaging a product for sale in the museum store.
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.