Worchester Polytechnic Institute Class Visits the Museum

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Simple Machines at the Museum

By Olivia E. Jackson

On Thursday, November 8, engineering professor Fred Looft and twenty-one students from Worchester Polytechnic Institute visited the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum. The students and Professor Looft were on a tour of Nantucket, visiting different cultural institutions on the island and studying the evolution of mechanics and machines as a work study piece to their course. Their trip to the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum was intended to enhance their course curriculum, which includes the study and analysis of simple machines and their engineering, by seeing real life examples of these types of machines. At the Museum, several simple machines are on display; the Breeches Buoy, a lifesaving practice used by the Massachusetts Humane Society and the United States Life Saving Stations to rescue shipwrecked sailors and souls in the 19th century, is one example. Additionally, the beach cart, the Lyle gun, and the Lifesaving surfboat are simple machines that the students had the opportunity to learn about and study. The class also had the opportunity to meet head docent Dick Mack, who gave them a comprehensive tour of the Museum, as well as Egan Maritime’s Manager of Maritime Education Evan Schawnfelder. Evan remarked how engaged and enthusiastic the students were, asking questions and wanting to know more about the Museum’s specific interactive exhibits, such as the Shipwreck map.