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At the Eli Whitney Museum, learning happens in the workshop

Image Source: Eli Whitney Museum.

Eli Whitney is most often remembered as the inventor of the cotton gin and a proponent of interchangeable parts, the manufacturing standard that helped usher in the Industrial Revolution. Less well known, though critical to his success as a manufacturer, is how he taught his workers how to craft tools and other artisan skills needed for his factories. Today, this legacy of workshop education is carried on by the Eli Whitney Museum. 

For more than 30 years, the Eli Whitney Museum has been a place for young people to build, tinker, and experiment. A wide range of programs are offered for students after school and during vacations, and the apprentice program for high schoolers has been an incubator for high-achieving designers, builders, and computer engineers. 

“Education happens both inside and outside the classroom, and it turns out many people are more adept at learning in the workshop than with books,” said Executive Director Bill Brown. “In classrooms learning is directed by an expert. But in the real world there are a lot of circumstances where no one is there telling you the answers and you have to figure out how to solve problems on your own. We happen to like good learners.” Read more.

On Thursday, April 28, The Eli Whitney celebrates this year's submissions to The Leonardo Project, an annual benefit for the museum. Tickets are $75 per person at the door or you may call 203.777.1833 to pay by credit card ahead of time.

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