New RMSC exhibit building interest in construction jobs

05:00 AM, Jan 19, 2014

Madelyn Etter, 5, of Honeoye Falls plays at the 'Be A Crane Operator' station of the new permanent exhibit 'Under Construction: Building Careers' at the Rochester Museum & Science Center. (CARLOS ORTIZ/ / staff photographer)/


Written By Caurie Putnam

Also at RMSC

Math Midway, a carnival-themed traveling exhibit, will be on display through March 17. Visitors can ride a square-wheeled tricycle, spin the “Universal Wheel of Chance,” challenge the “Ring of Fire” to reveal what cross-sections are, play the “Organ Function Grinder” and match shapes on the “Mathematical Monkey Mat.”

If you go

What: “Under Construction: Building Careers” permanent exhibit.
Where: Rochester Museum & Science Center, 657 East Ave.
Cost: Free with museum admission of $13; $12 for seniors and college students; $11 for youths.
More information: (585) 271-4320 or rmsc.org.

The closest Tatum Miller, 8, had ever come to a crane was in her family’s car. Her mother brought something to her father while he was working at the College Town construction site on Mt. Hope Avenue this fall.

For safety, we keep the little ones off-site,” says Kyle Miller, Tatum’s father and a senior environmental analyst with LaBella Associates.

But last week at a new Rochester Museum & Science Center exhibit — one planned with input from the area’s construction trades — Tatum was able not only to see a crane up close, but control it.

This is great,” Kyle Miller said as his hard hat-clad daughter manipulated the controls of the crane to drop a load of faux bricks at a house under construction in the “Under Construction: Building Careers” exhibit.

It’s so hands-on and fun for the kids,” he says. “But they’re learning what we do.”

That is the goal of the museum’s newest permanent exhibit: to expose children and teens to the depth and breadth of careers in the construction industry via an array of interactive displays.

We want visitors to gain knowledge and interest in the trade industries,” says Rich Smith, RMSC manager of interactive development. “And we want them to have fun!”

Fun abounds with the operable mini crane; a simulated working electrical system that visitors can safely manipulate on a wall; a PVC plumbing pipe puzzle; KEVA Planks tile tables and more.

At the exhibit’s entrace, child-size safety gear is available, something curators found was extremely important to many of the tradespeople they consulted while creating the exhibit.

Time and time again, tradespeople told us safety is a key element of their job,” Smith says. “We make safety the forefront of what you see when you come in the gallery.”

Miller, of Webster, was pleased with the display of steel-toed boots, hard hats, reflective vests, harnesses and more.

I like that they had a health and safety area right at the beginning of the exhibit because safety is such an important part of working on a construction site,” Miller says.

A highlight of the exhibit is a time-lapse video of the construction of the Rochester Institute of Technology’s new Golisano Institute for Sustainability’s Sustainability Institute Hall.

The video includes in-depth interviews with nearly 20 men and women who have different jobs in the construction industry and were involved in the project, including an electrician at O’Connell Electric; a carpenter at Rochester Davis Fetch Corp.; a senior project manager with LeChase Construction; an energy management foreman with Leo J Roth Controls; and an architect with SWBR Architects.

The human interest stories in how the tradespeople got involved in their work and what they did on the project really heighten visitors’ awareness of the trades,” Smith says.

The 84,000-square-foot RIT building, which opened in early 2013, is designed to be a “living lab” where students and researchers learn about sustainability from the cutting-edge technology housed there.

The RIT hall is one of the greenest buildings in the world and was the inspiration behind the RMSC’s “Under Construction: Building Careers” exhibit, says museum president Kate Bennett.

Bennett saw a similar exhibit a few years ago at the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey, but wanted to wait until the perfect building — and group of people to create the exhibit with — materialized in Rochester.

When construction of Sustainability Institute Hall was announced, she knew it would be the perfect anchor project for a permanent construction exhibit at RMSC.

It’s a very wonderful building,” Bennett says. “And the exhibit provides an excellent chronology of the building of it.”

The planning and execution of the exhibit also follows a national trend of museums joining with new and different groups to fund new collections and exhibits and build new audiences.

In addition, it fits into an RMSC goal of providing more STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs.

The exhibit was constructed entirely in-house. Groups that helped the museum include Builders Exchange of Rochester, Max & Marian Farash Charitable Foundation, UNICON, John W. Danforth Company, LeChase Construction Services, Manning Squires Hennig Company and O’Connell Electric Company.

Aaron Hilger, president of Builders Exchange of Rochester, helped generate ideas for the exhibit and is thrilled with the outcome.

The construction industry is a broad career path,” Hilger says. “It is more than just building things with your hands. As the exhibit shows, there is design, engineering, management and so much more.”