The car is arguably the most common and recognizable complex machine and familiar form of transportation today. Children spend much of their time as passengers in, or observers of, cars and car-related activity.
The Garage capitalizes on this familiarity to introduce concepts of mechanics, engineering, science, and even teamwork and social skills. The approach in presenting a mechanical construct as a series of individually-interactable components allows for a multitude of modular learning paths that cover a wide range of skills and subjects. It covers the breadth of age groups from toddlers learning size and shape and texture, to elementary school kids learning the engineering approach to troubleshooting, or even middle schoolers learning customer service and job ticketing.
The exhibit is presented as a section of a typical commercial garage, with a half-scale car raised to be worked on. All four wheels are removable after unscrewing the Teflon lug nuts with the tools provided. The engine compartment has individually testable and removable spark plugs, alternator, water pump, starter and air filter. The oil can be topped up with “pretend” oil cans, as can the washer fluid, and coolant. The muffler can be pulled off and a new one installed. Even the license plates can be replaced. There is also an external oil recycling bin to help teach the value of recycling. Caters to 3 – 14.
Sample Activity for Educators
U-Fix-It Garage Activity: Blind Instruction
This activity provides students with the opportunity to have fun while practicing the art of following instructions. It also gives students a chance to be leaders and earn the trust of the students they are instructing, while having fun.
You are the owner of the U-Fix-It Garage, where you teach your classmates how to properly fix a vehicle. Your classmates have never worked with tools and don’t know what any of them are, or how to use them.
What to do:
Use basic instructions to tell your classmates how to change an air filter, a tire, spark plugs, etc. using the proper tools. Your instructions need to be very simple so everyone can follow. If you don’t know what a tool is, how to use it, or how to “repair” the vehicle, use the visual instructions as a guide.
Questions to ask after the activity:
- Were there any tools or items to repair that you didn’t know what they were or how to do them? How did you figure it out?
- Were you able to clearly explain how to properly repair everything?
- Were any of your classmates confused when you tried explaining something to them? How did you correct it to make them understand?