Monday, July 4, 2016

Helping students understand our complex collection

Our historic machine tools are intricate, specialized machines that made.....other machines.  It has been a challenge to figure out how to help students understand how they worked without being able to touch them.

We decided to try an intro activity for students focused on gears--spur gears, rack and pinion, worm gears, and bevel gears.  We discussed each type of gear and then they had to figure out how each of the household implements in this toolbox worked. We discussed how gears transfer energy, transform energy, and change the direction of energy. They loved the mystery box and were excited to figure out what each implement was and how it worked.

After we explored all the household implements, pairs of students were sent out onto the exhibit floor with magnetized gear labels. I have never seen students look so closely at our machines--we suddenly had kids scooting around on their backs identifying gears I had never known about.

When combined with a discussion of water power, belts, and pulleys as well as a demonstration in the working machine shop, our students are finally understanding our collection.

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