The Uncommon Press Project was a cross-departmental, multi-disciplinary capstone project by students from the Kate Gleason College of Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts at Rochester Institute of Technology which aimed to create a historically accurate reconstruction of a circa 1790 English common press for the Cary Graphic Arts Collection. As a member of the team undertaking this project, I was involved in the research, materials acquisition, construction, and social media engagement efforts. In addition to my role as part of this team, I desired, as an individual scholar, to learn how a reconstructed press can serve as an educational device. This led to the question: what is the most successful way for a reconstructed 18th-century printing press to be utilized as an educational object? To examine this question, I began by analyzing current scholarly literature on museum educational methods, with a focus on object-based education, in addition to examining Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards for STEM education. I helped facilitate the user-testing of the press with 200 visitors, a majority of whom were K-8 students. I further explored the application of STEM education standards to a cultural object by defining the ways in which the Uncommon Press, through both hands-on use and observation, could be correlated to individual standards for STEM education of students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Building upon my participation in the multidisciplinary team, the interactive demonstration, and my additional research findings, I conclude that the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards for STEM education provide an appropriate lens for facilitating object-based, STEM education in cultural institutions.

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Museum Studies (BS)


Juilee Decker

Advisor/Committee Member

Steven Galbraith


RIT – Main Campus