My kids love to watch the show “How It’s Made” on the Discovery Channel and so looking around for a factory tour to take this summer sounded like a great idea. Except you have to check carefully into the factory tours that you sign up for- some of them are more “show” than tour! Earlier this summer we traveled to Easton PA to visit the Crayola Factory… only it is not a factory at all. It’s really more of an interactive Crayola experience (picture thousands of crayons set up at various stations with ideas for craft projects)… but one that bored my kids over age 7. Then a few weekends ago, we made a stop at Hershey’s Chocolate World to take their chocolate factory tour…. but this was more of a Disney-esque show than a true tour of a factory where chocolate is made.
But this past weekend we ventured over to the town of Corning, NY and visited the Corning Museum of Glass to see how glass is made. And boy were we impressed! The first thing we did after we arrived was to check out the glass blowing demonstration. The artisan removed a molten glob of hot glass from the kiln and began to shape the glass.
After he achieved the shape and size he was looking for (and look at how the glass is clear now), the other artisan helped him out by “drizzling” some additional hot glass on top of his work in order to create a dimensional effect. He returned the piece to the kiln again to heat it, and then by using the forces of gravity to shape the bowl, he spun it into a platter-shape and then it turned it upside down to create this fluttery-edged bowl. It was so cool! After the glassblowing show, we visited this flame working demonstration to see how this artist took glass tubes, melted them, and shaped them into small glass figures. This particular demonstration was a “You Design It, We Build It” session, where they select one design that a guest drew up and then create it just as the guest envisioned. Today’s guest had drawn a picture of a brown cat with blue polka dots, and we were amazed at what a great job this artist did in creating this figure. We spent several hours walking around and viewing the glass on exhibit and learning about how glass is mass-produced in so many forms- light bulbs, glass bottles, Pyrex, and more. But the highlight of our trip came at the end when I surprised the kids by signing each of us to work with an artist to make our own glass ornament!
First she removed a nice glob of molten glass…
You get to select the colors and the shape of the ornament you wish to make, and the artist picks up the colors on the glass, and starts to shape it. Then it is your turn to get involved by blowing into the tube to create the ornament. Using a tweezer-type of tool, she pulled the end of glass to achieve this tear drop shape (as Kyle requested).
After she finished the ornament by constructing the glass hook, she showed Kyle his finished ornament briefly, and from a distance (it is still over 900 degrees!). The ornament was placed in a cooling oven, where it will slowly the cool the glass to room temperature over a 12-hour period so the glass stabilizes properly. The glass studio will ship our ornaments to us the next day!
This was truly a highlight of our summer!
If you enjoyed this idea for a field trip for your summer camp at home… here are a few more ideas:
- 5 Reasons to Take Your Kids to A Minor League Baseball Game
- Visit a Waterfall
- Visit a Cave!
- Visit The Dinosaur Place
- Family camping!
- Visit an outdoor sculpture garden
- Check out a science center
- Plan a trip to a zoo or aquarium