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We Got Games: Informal Technology Education In A Hands On Museum

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Successful K-12 Programs for Girls & Minorities

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1392.1 - 13.1392.12



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Paper Authors


Zbigniew Pasek University of Windsor

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Zbigniew J. Pasek is an Associate Professor in the Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Department at the University of Windsor. His interests include industrial automation, informal engineering education and engineering applications in health care.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

We Got Games: Informal Technology Education in a Hands-On Museum


A growing gap between technology use and technology understanding in a consumer society creates a need to educate general public about manufacturing - the backbone of a strong economy. This paper describes development of a museum exhibit: a visitor-centered informal education experience highlighting the principles of modern manufacturing. The exhibit architecture reflects three principal engineering activities involved in creating consumer products: product design, manufacturing, and marketing/business. It explains how these fields interrelate on an example of a well understood product – customizable pen. Each activity is implemented via two components: an interactive computer game and a physical display environment, which complement each other. The results of an observational study and analysis of the data gathered through a data collection mechanism built into the game are also provided, suggesting a successful achievement of initial design goals.


Despite steadily increasing dependency of modern societies on technology, society-wide understanding of technology (necessary, for example, in informed and critical decision-making) is usually lacking. Since about 70 percent of Americans are past the school age, updating their technological literacy requires access to opportunities outside of formal education. Younger generations have yet to develop their technological skills and interests, but opportunities for that in a structured, pre-college education are limited. The importance of inducing technological interests in youth cannot be overstated, as it impacts future supply of engineers and scientists.

Being avid consumers of manufactured products, contemporary American youths are very familiar with their wide variety due to the efforts of marketing campaigns, advertising media and their own use of the Internet. However, as they buy and use today’s products, they simultaneously hold no concept of how these products came to exist or how they were made. Overall, general public’s knowledge of manufacturing is relatively limited; also its perception is really outdated (usually stuck in mass production concepts) and unappealing. This lack of knowledge creates a demotivational barrier preventing many potential students from entering the field. Such a knowledge gap creates an opportunity to educate the general public about what constitutes modern manufacturing.

This paper describes an effort to bridge the technological literacy gap, by a museum exhibit, offering a visitor-centered informal learning experience, highlighting the principles of modern manufacturing.

Exhibit Goals and Development

The main purpose of the exhibit is to educate visitors about the processes in three fields crucial to industrial production – product design, manufacturing, and marketing – and how these fields

Pasek, Z. (2008, June), We Got Games: Informal Technology Education In A Hands On Museum Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3884

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