How People Make Things, a new exhibit opening at the Children’s Museum of Houston on May 23, tells the story of how things are made by linking familiar childhood objects to a process of manufacturing that combines people, ideas and technology.
How People Make Things, inspired by the factory tour segments from the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood television series, offers hands-on activities using real factory tools and machines to create objects with four manufacturing processes – molding, cutting, deforming and assembly. Many common manufactured products help tell the story of how people, ideas and technology transform raw materials into finished products.
Visitors can use a die cutter to make a box and a horse, operate a 3-axis mill to carve a block of wax, assemble parts of a real golf cart and race a robotic arm to see who assembles a replica of the signature trolley from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood faster.
Children can step into the Main Office, where they can don coveralls, lab coats, aprons, safety glasses, and hard hats to become a factory technician, worker or supervisor. Museum-goers can also mold pourable wax, explore vacuum forming and injection molding and match products to the mold from which they were made, or play the “People in Your Neighborhood” matching game, developed with The Saturday Light Brigade radio program, where audio clues and stories help you match the person to the object they make.
“This exhibit brings children close to the real stuff, the nuts and bolts of how products are manufactured, which is very easy to feel removed from these days,” says Keith Ostfeld, director of exhibit development at the Children’s Museum of Houston. “When kids operate the 3-axis mill and the die cutter, issues of design, engineering and function in everyday items become very real. Plus, it’s a lot of fun. Through his factory tours, Fred Rogers took complex issues and made them simple and direct so children could understand them and relate them to their own lives. He made manufacturing fascinating and inspirational, and we continue that tradition with How People Make Things.”
The factory tour videos from the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood television series featured in the exhibit depict the making of crayons, carousel horses, balls, stop lights, quarters, shoes, toy cars and toy wagons.
Everyday products featured in How People Make Things include 10,000 Crayola crayons in 90 colors, 10,000 plastic pellets, 300 ice cream cups, stop lights, cooking pans, sneakers, baseball bats, baseball mitts and matchbox cars.
Admission is $7 per person and $6 for seniors 65 years and older. Children under one and Museum Members receive free admission. Free Family Nights are offered Thursdays from 5-8 p.m. courtesy of The Wortham Foundation, Inc. and Kathrine McGovern and the late John P. McGovern, M.D. Two for one admission days on Sundays will be offered Memorial Day through Labor Day courtesy of Target.
Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday from Noon-6 p.m. For more information, visit www.cmhouston.org or call 713-522-1138. The museum is closed Mondays, except most Federal holidays and during HISD winter and spring breaks and open Mondays during the summer months from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
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