Spotlight: Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

Blogged by Liza Loop, Vision Keeper for HCLE

I want to design an exhibit for the History of Computing in Learning and Education Virtual Museum that showcases the work done by early public access computing sites. Today I had the privilege of being hosted at OMSI by curator, Lori Erickson. Lori found old newsletters and photos from the ‘60s and ‘70s for me to comb through looking for details about OMSIs pioneering work in providing kids with an opportunity to learn about computing. Thank you, Lori. Below is a taste of what I discovered.

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Although no year is printed on this newsletter, OMSI was already ahead of the curve in creating interactive science experiences in the ‘60s.

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The slide rule was still king but OMSI knew that some kids needed better access to science and math education than they were getting in school but progress was slow.

By 1973 Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, CA, was the only one of 12 museums, including OMSI, that received mention of computing in an article entitled “Science Museum Programs for the Young” in Science and Children magazine*. The story changes by 1975. That year OMSI receives high praise for its innovative support of aspiring student programmers.

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The records in OMSIs files are spotty. Clearly the staff was too busy planning new exhibits and classes to worry overly about documenting what they were doing. That’s one reason HCLE is important.

This same 1975 report** goes on to show that real partnerships developed between OMSI and the budding geeks they hosted.

I’ve only gotten part way through the ‘70s in Lori’s box of goodies so keep watching as this story unfolds. OMSI did more to lead the way to inspiring a generation of young programmers and engineers.

Come back later for a continuation of this story.

 

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