Guest post by Andy Capel, Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions
Sometimes we all need a pick-me-up. It is so easy to get in a rut in our everyday life and become bogged down in our routines. Maybe all you need is a little inspiration; something to make you feel like that project you’ve been working on is new again. Everything in our personal and work lives can become so blurred you are left feeling like you’re pushing a boulder uphill alongside Sisyphus, only to watch it roll back down. No matter how much we like our jobs or believe in what we do, we all have those days when we want to find a way to be new, fresh, and exciting.
So, when conversations came up with the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock Arkansas (6th on Mensa’s Museum List of America’s best science museums) about bringing the Mister Rogers’ manufacturing exhibit ‘How People Make Things’ to the facility I felt a new and exciting breeze start blowing. For those readers who’ve never seen an episode of this TV series, Mister Rogers would visit factory floors and demonstrate the manufacturing process behind everyday objects like crayons, guitars, towels and sneakers. The exhibit, targeted to children aged pre-school to high school, offers a safe and hands-on opportunity to ‘make things’ using the real tools, materials, machines and processes found in manufacturing through interactive activities and a simulated factory floor experience. (As I wrote this, I started wondering about the likelihood that any of these children would have ever heard of Mister Rogers. I asked around at the office, and even the youngest of my coworkers didn’t seem to remember him. What’s old is new again, people!)
In planning events for the 2013 Arkansas Manufacturing Day, the staff at Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions (AMS), a program of Arkansas Science & Technology Authority and a NIST MEP-affiliate center, felt this exhibit would offer a tremendous opportunity to reach out and educate people of all ages about manufacturing careers and the products they make.
The exhibit was launched with support from the local manufacturing community. At a special reception and exhibit tour for local manufacturers, Governor Mike Beebe spoke in support of local manufacturers. Arkansas manufacturers will be represented through supplemental exhibit pieces, including valves from Cameron Valves and a pump produced by Franklin Electric. A streaming presentation from Cameron will also show how the company’s valves are made and can be deconstructed. According to staff at the museum, the ‘How People Make Things’ exhibit has been a resounding success-- possibly even their most popular display this year. It’s proof that sometimes, when you manage to think a little bit outside the box, great things can happen. We’ve all wondered for years how to spark interest in manufacturing careers, and ‘How People Make Things’ has shown us a new way to do that... with great success.
More information about the AMS sponsored exhibit, ‘How People Make Things’, at the Arkansas Museum of Discovery in Little Rock can be found on the museum’s website. It will be displayed now through September 22.