A Simple Fix for Simple Machines

Yesterday morning I recieved an email from Dr. Jeffrey Wood, Professor of Physics at San Juan College in New Mexico. Here is part of his email:


I’m not sure if you’re the right person to take this message, but I figure that you can forward it to the right person if not!

I am originally from Columbus, OH and used to go to the downtown location of COSI in the 1970s as a kid for entertainment and loved it. I can still see many of the displays and the awesome vending machine cafeteria in my mind. I’ve also been to the new location on a couple of occasions as an adult with my own kids and believe that Columbus really has a great asset in COSI! I think that it probably played a part in my early development that helped me to decide to eventually become a physicist.

I occasionally send my intro physics students to the COSI website to learn about Simple Machines (http://www.cosi.org/files/Flash/simpMach/sm1.html).

The website is very engaging and well designed, but I have noticed a couple of issues that have confused students and I thought that COSI should know and I hope that they can make some updates.

(Makes some recommendations for updates and corrections)

Thanks for the great job that you’re doing in opening the minds and hearts of our countries future scientists, engineers, and technology leaders. We need their imagination and skills now more than ever to move America and the world community forward to better days for us all.

Please feel free to contact me if you need clarification on any of the above.

Sincerely, Dr. Jeffrey Wood, PhD Professor of Physics School of Science San Juan College

Having only been the Web Manager at COSI since June, I hadn’t done much yet with our Flash-based online activities. I’m not the biggest fan of Flash as a web communications tool (that’s another blog post entirely), but it does work well for standalone web interactives like the Simple Machines activity. However, as a science resource, we at COSI work to avoid supplying incorrect or confusing information at all costs! When I am made aware of a situation like this, it always moves to the top of my priority list.

The Simple Machines activity is a number of years old, so I was VERY fortunate to even locate the source Flash file for it! Although not a frequent Flash user, I somehow located the content in question and was able to correct and clarify the information that had been noted. I exported the new Flash movie file, and less than 7 hours after getting Jeff’s email, the Simple Machines activity had been corrected!

I have always valued the accuracy of our site content as more important than the methods we use to communicate it. After all, what good is it to communicate information at all if it is WRONG? When someone (either inside or outside of our building) informs me of incorrect or confusing information, I will always do everything in my power to correct or clarify it as soon as possible, no matter how long it has been on the site in its current form!

If you ever notice something on our web site that is confusing or that you believe may be incorrect, please let me know. I work hard to proofread and fact check the information we put on COSI.org, but with over 500 active pages of content, something is bound to get missed!

As a final thought, how cool is it that COSI inspires kids to do things like become a Professor of Physics and pass science on to another generation? I also grew up as a “COSI Kid,” and it’s exciting to play a part in passing the love for technology that grew in me through my visits to COSI on to kids who will become our future scientists, engineers, and web managers!