The sound of heavy machinery and emergency vehicles blared through parts of downtown Brownwood Friday and Saturday as part of the Wheels that Move the World Exhibit outside the Martin and Frances Lehnis Railroad Museum.
Area military, first responders, city workers and volunteers let children inside their vehicles, in many instances allowing children to operate the machinery for a hands-on lesson in science and technology.
“It’s incredibly valuable,” said Cade Riggs, the parent of two boys attending the exhibit. “You want your kids to have an enriching experience and you want them to understand that all of the math and science they are learning in school actually works in the real world … My son has been learning about hydraulics in school and now he gets to see how hydraulics work in the workplace.”
Throughout the day, children marched from vehicle to vehicle, climbing into cabs or powering the auxiliary machinery attached. Whether it was the City of Brownwood letting children pick up and drop old garbage cans with a city crane truck or Lifeguard EMS letting children light up ambulance sirens or hear his or her voice through the P.A. system, some volunteers said they had just as much fun at the exhibit as the children.
“It’s fun. The kids have a lot of questions and really want to know everything that goes on in the back,” Lifeguard EMT Basic Chanda Simmerman said. “… It’s cool to see a little kid’s perspective from it. From a paramedic’s perspective, you see it every day.
“It puts the fun back into the job. The sirens, I deal with them all of the time. We go on calls that it might take 30 minutes to get there and by the time you get there you’re tired of hearing them. The kids love it and it brings us back and I think oh yeah, this is kind of cool.”
Museum Curator Crystal Stanley said the exhibit could not have been possible without the volunteers, which included: numerous City of Brownwood employees, Brownwood Police Department officers, Brownwood Fire Department firefighters, members of the Texas Army National Guard 822 Engineer Division from Camp Bowie and various other individuals and organizations in attendance.
“We had a great volunteer turnout,” Stanley said. “We had volunteers from the Brownwood chamber, the Early chamber, Ranger College and some of our regular museum volunteers. It’s been really great and, of course, all of those guys running their vehicles are great. We really could not do it without everybody showing up and the kids are really having a good time.”