Simple Machines at the Old Mill

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Fall 2018

A team of four students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) took on a 14-week project in partnership with the NHA to enhance the visitor experience of a treasured historic landmark on the island, the Old Mill.  In doing so, this group of students created four interactive museum exhibits that showcased engineering principles present inside the Old Mill.

Along with these exhibits the students also created supplemental educational materials such as a PDF booklet for children to use while at the Old Mill, a teachers’ guide to understanding the educational principles behind the exhibits, and instructional posters to accompany each exhibit.

The WPI project team included Bailey Joseph, Mackenzie Phillips, Mitch Read, and Ben Thornton. Mentoring the project for the NHA were Edwin Rudd, Director of Facilities, and Mary Lacoursiere,  Peter M. and Bonnie J. Sacerdote Chair of Education and Community Relations.

Read more about the project .


Fall 2019

This year’s WPI team was chartered with designing, building, and refining interactive exhibits and interpretive materials for the Old Mill. They built four portable physical interactives, exploring the STEM concepts of friction, levers, translation of motion, and energy conversion, all present in the Old Mill. Using an iterative design process, they improved their exhibit prototypes with feedback from NHA staff and Nantucket third graders, rebuilding one exhibit at a larger scale.

They also created a storyboard for a digital exhibit about the Old Mill for learning and accessibility, using video of the Old Mill in action, a digital rendering of the Old Mill they created, and interviews with NHA Old Mill interpreters and millers.

The WPI project team included Peter Jankowski, Ryan Luisi, Kathryn Stovall, and Avery Wallis. Mentoring the project for the NHA were Mary Lacoursiere,  Peter M. and Bonnie J. Sacerdote Chair of Education and Community Relations; Karl Weitzel, Historic Sites Manager; and Joe Bedell, Exhibition Construction.

Read more about the project .

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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