A museum trains the next generation of engineers

At Discovery Space, a science museum in Pennsylvania, children have the opportunity to try their hand at engineering over summer vacation.


At Discovery Space Children's Science Museum in State College, Pennsylvania, children have the opportunity to try their hand at engineering over summer vacation.

In this next segment, we take a look as students tackle the engineering of a windmill.

Discovery Space in State College is technically a museum, but it feels more like a clubhouse -- one where the only membership requirement is a curious mind.

Today, 15 young explorers will put their imaginations and creativity to the test to become eco-engineers.

Does anybody have any ideas what the difference might be between a windmill and a wind turbine?

The task -- build a windmill capable of raising a bucket filled with pennies.

To do it, they'll need to think like an engineer.

That means coming up with a plan.

[ Indistinct conversations ]

Paper, rock.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I find that that's often the most challenging part of the process for kids, because they don't want to have to, you know, tell me ahead of time what they want to use.

They want to just grab a bunch of stuff.

But it's a really rewarding part of the process, also, for them to have drawn something out and identified what they think the best material possible is going to be to solve that problem.

Then you can come and pick them up, and then go back and start building.

After a little brainstorming, the building begins.


[ Indistinct conversations ] ♪♪ There we go.

Good job.

Prototyping is a really important and fun part where they get to build.

But then, also, the redesign step.

To me, that's one of the best parts of the engineering design process as an educator, is that we are making failure a great thing.

In fact, it's an encouraged part.


How about we just make the blades before we put them on?

♪♪ I honestly don't know if it's gonna work or not, because the rest of this was easy -- just make the blades and make sure that they can catch air.

This, there's no background information for it.

Once the prototype is ready, it's time for a test.

Each prototype gets evaluated, and the design gets tweaked.

What's happening over here, Malachi?

Is it pulling the bucket, Emilia?


Oh, that's a lot.



All right.

So what might we do differently to that design?

Get it to stay down.

Get it to stay down?

Secure your design a bit more, and then come back and test again.

It's so rewarding, I think -- especially the ones that fail the first time -- for them to understand that the failure happened, it was all right, we all moved on.

They redesigned, and now they have success.

You have six.

I have six.

All right.

Six, seven.

All right, ready?



It did it, didn't it?

[ Boy speaking indistinctly ] Nice! Good design!


I hope they remember that engineering was fun and that it wasn't something that just happened in a classroom, it wasn't something that involved solving math problems or sitting at a computer.

It was actually hands-on.

They did something to solve that problem.

I hope they remember that they failed and then succeeded.

Probably most importantly that they may not become engineers, but they now have an idea of what those people do and why they're important in our society.

And so, you know, we're just kind of forming a more scientific-literate community through our work here, I think.

We might need to slide this down a bit.

Awesome idea.

Turn off the fan.


Go and redesign and come back.