Cuyahoga County Public Library – Brook Park Branch

Brook Park, OH

Brook Park is home to a Ford Engine Plant built in the 1950s. The plant is an important part of this community and many citizens of Brook Park who work at the plant take pride in what they do. The deputy director Tracy Strobel commissioned us to make a car with an engine for their children’s room. This was quite a project to develop and build an interactive engine. It helped to have gear-heads on our engineering team as well as many of our woodworkers.

The engine is made of wood and fits together like a giant puzzle to allow children to understand the basic mechanics of the engine—spark plugs, pistons, intake manifolds all can be taken apart and put back together. Another design element we thought important was the act of climbing into the car. We really think that made it a very special place to sit. It takes us back to climbing a tree or fort. The car has a bench seat, two steering wheels, a dashboard, reflective side view mirror, acrylic windshield and a back trunk area for books and stuffed animal passengers. The bench seat offers a place for kids or a child and parent or caregiver.

Lots of interactive panels on each wheel, with bold graphics, that are just the right height and contrast for the little ones. The automobile’s trunk houses Learning Panels that are transportation orientated too. One of the panels prompts a child to park cars!

Bench seats in the engine compartment were added for kids or a parent/caregiver to climb aboard and take the engine apart! We added a custom engine diagram so children knew the part names and schematic on how it goes back together.