'Engineering Day' takes over the Riverfront Museum

By Alyssa Donovan

February 17, 2013 Updated Feb 17, 2013 at 7:15 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill.-- The Peoria Riverfront Museum was a packed house on Sunday as kids and adults of all ages learned how stuff works.

The local society of engineers footed the bill for admission so that everyone could get in for free and soak up some knowledge.

Museum President and CEO Jim Richerson says it's way for local engineers and architects to spark some interest.

Richerson said, "In a way this is great because it's really about workforce development and what all these young people may be doing in their future."

Visitors learned everything from environmental engineering, how to test their torque, and how to operate heavy machinery.

But one organization preferred to keep it simple. Rachel Dockstader of Engineering Explorers came equipped with a box of straws and some construction paper.

Dockstader said,"We try to keep it fun. Something that grabs people's attention. You see these hoopflighters flying around everywhere and people are like I want one of those."

Gavin Neff from Edelstein said,"She calls it a hoopflighter but at school when we made them in 4th grade they were called hoopsters and if you throw it sometimes it'll fly!"

whatever you call it, the simple invention was more than just a toy.

Dockstader said, "It teaches them a lot about drag forces, kind of like an airplane but since it looks different they don't expect it to fly like it does."

Richerson says 300 people came through the doors just in the first hour, and the museum expects nearly one thousand visitors total.

And with that many people visiting the event not only packed the museum, but also packed a good economic punch.

Richerson said, "This is a big win for downtown Peoria on a Sunday afternoon. So great for the museum... Spectacular for downtown Peoria."

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