Windsor — From a miniature replica of a steam power plant to pinball machines to a robotic penguin, the American Precision Museum’s Model Engineering Show and Maker Space aims to give visitors a feel for technology spanning two centuries.
The event is set for Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum, 196 Main St., and the nearby Windsor Recreation Center, 29 Union St.
The show aligns with the museum’s mission to educate people about American innovation and ingenuity, especially in manufacturing, which, although often taken for granted, “affects all of us throughout our daily lives,” Kris Garnjost, the museum’s visitor services manager, said in a phone interview.
The event features work by some of the region’s finest model engineers and machinists, and demonstrations highlighting the “most intricate machining skills from the past, present and future,” the museum said in a news release.
The “future” part is relatively new.
In recent years, the show has expanded to include “maker space” activities and new technology, which means there are a lot more things for families to do, Garnjost said.
The Family Maker Space, set up at the recreation center, will feature cardboard pinball machines to play with, design and decorate; 3D printing; hands-on solar power demonstrations, and other activities hosted by organizations including Twin State Makerspaces.
The Foundry, a community workshop in St. Johnsbury, Vt., will provide fun in the form of “completely silly” battlebot cars, which try to lift, pull or rotate one another; an oversized Newton’s cradle that swaps bowling balls for the original tiny swinging spheres; and an autonomous robot penguin named Penny, all created by Foundry members. Penny just wanders around until her battery finally goes out, her creator and the nonprofit’s president Jim Schenck said in a phone interview. “Kids love her.”
A model train and a steam-powered peanut roaster capable of monogramming the legumes will be set up outside the center, Garnjost said.
The more history-related activities will take place at the museum, including demonstrations of custom gun engraving and presentations about the museum’s gunstock lathe.
One of the first machine tools able to replicate a part exactly the same way over and over again, the lathe is “a very important piece in the whole concept of interchangeable parts,” Garnjost said.
Displays will include a private collection of antique firearms made in Vermont and New Hampshire and the museum’s new exhibit, three years in the making.
“Shaping America” explores how Precision Valley machinists and tool builders influenced the course of American history, helping drive rapid industrialization, the emergence of the United States as a world power and the development of its consumer culture, according to the museum’s website
“We’re really pretty proud” of the exhibit, which features videos, additional documentation about the machines and new machines not previously displayed there, Garnjost said.
Despite the many changes, some elements of the event, now in its 17th year, have endured. Many modelers return year after year to showcase their work, mostly old machine engines, Garnjost said. And the crowd of visitors still includes the old machinists themselves, some aiming to show their grandchildren “what’s so cool about machining.”
The admission fee, $10 for adults or $5 for students, covers entry to both the museum and recreation center. Children under 6 get in free.
For more information, go to americanprecision.org or the museum’s Facebook page, or call 802-674-5781.
Aimee Caruso can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3210.