Friday, May 25, 2012

Kids at Work

We have more new additions, this time to the French Canadian gallery of our Coming to Rhode Island exhibit, which celebrates the state’s rich cultural diversity. Visitors take a time traveling adventure to meet four real immigrants whose families came from different countries, for different reasons, at different times.

The French Canadian gallery tells the story of Louis Goulet, whose family immigrated to Manville, RI to work in the cotton mills in 1865, when Louis was 10. The environment includes a church archway to indicate the importance of religion in the Goulets’ life and a mural of the Manville Mill that depicts a spinning mule – a machine that twisted cotton into thread. In a reproduction of the family’s company cottage, children explore traditional quilting, read an account of life at the mill, and prepare customary meals on a cast iron stove.

New last week, two activities that engage visitors in mill work:

Bobbin sorting
Some children who worked in the mill were bobbin boys and girls, who collected and sorted bobbins full of thread from the spinning mules. Try sorting bobbins by color. Time yourself. How fast can you work?

Machines and people worked together in the mill. Gears were often an integral part of machinery, making work more efficient. Design a system of gears. Find the gears in the mill mural.

We’ve enjoyed seeing how the new components deepen visitors’ play in that gallery. Come check them out and let us know what you think!

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