Children's Museum

Currently Closed

How People Make Things Returns to the Children’s Museum

Opens November 5

PITTSBURGH, PA (October 29, 2011) - The Year of the Maker continues in Pittsburgh on November 5 whenHow People Make Things, an exhibit that tells the story of how everyday  items are manufactured, opens at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. This exhibit, on display at the Museum through February 12, 2012, is 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 that are cut, molded, deformed and assembled. Locally manufactured products help tell the story of how people, ideas and technology transform raw materials into finished products.  

“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 Jane Werner, Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.“When kids operate the vacuum former 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 2,500 square-foot exhibit follows the Museum’s design philosophy of ‘Play with Real Stuff’ - a belief that children and families learn through concrete experiences with real materials and real processes. Visitors can use a real vacuum former to make a bowl, an injection molder to make a spoon and a die cutter to make a horse and a box. They can also assemble parts of a real golf cart and a replica of the signature trolley from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, operate a 3-axis mill to carve a block of wax and role play being a factory worker with lab coats, jumpsuits and goggles.

The exhibit’s entry area, aka the Main Office, features a role playing area where children can pretend to be a factory technician, worker or supervisorand visit a “People in Your Neighborhood" matching kiosk, developed with The Saturday Light Brigade radio program (a Museum partner), where audio clues and stories help you match the person to the object they make.

Locally produced products featured in How People Make Things include 10,000 Crayola crayons in 90 colors (Easton, Pa.), toy balls from Hedstrom Plastics (Ashland, Ohio), cooking pans from All-Clad Metalcrafters (Canonsburg, Pa.); 10,000 springs from Diamond Wire Spring Company (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and an “exploded” bicycle display from Cannondale Bicycle Corp. (Bedford, Pa.). 

During 2006 and 2007 the Children’s Museum collaborated with Family Communications, Inc. (FCI), the producer of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE) to create How People Make Things. The exhibit was made possible by a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation and a matching $510,000 grant from The Grable Foundation.

FCI provided the Museum unlimited access to the library of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Factory Tours for use in the project and its staff helped shape developmentally appropriate learning messages for positive family interactions.

UPCLOSE, which maintains an ongoing partnership with the Children’s Museum and operates a learning lab at the Museum, collaborated on the prototyping of exhibit components to evaluate their functionality and educational value, and helped develop the exhibit’s signage.

After its June-September 2007 debut at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the exhibit began a four-year national and international tour in October 2007 with stops at the Omaha Children’s Museum, Chicago Children’s Museum, G.Wiz ( Sarasota, FL), Port Discovery ( Baltimore MD), Whitaker Center (Harrisburg, PA), Children’s Museum of Houston (TX), Greensboro Children’s Museum (NC), TELUS Museum (Calgary, Canada), Boonshoft Museum of Discovery (Dayton, OH),Imagination Station (Wilson, NC), Minnesota Discovery Center (Chisholm, MN), and DaVinci Science Center (Allentown, PA). After its Run at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh through February 5, 2012, How People Make Things will be back out on the road through September 2013 with stops at Minnesota Children’s Museum (St. Paul, MN), Science Museum of Virginia (Richmond, VA), Montshire Museum of Science (Norwich, VT) and the Musuem of Discovery (Little Rock, AK).

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is located at 10 Children’s Way in Allegheny Square on Pittsburgh’s historic North Side, just a block from the National Aviary and 3 blocks from PNC Park. Museum hours are Monday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm and Sunday, noon – 5:00 pm. Admission is $11 for children 2-18, $12 for adults and free for children under 2.