Today's close-to-home adventure was at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, aka the Money Factory. Fort Worth is the only place outside of Washington, D.C. that prints American paper money. We picked exactly the right week to visit (purely by accident), one of the three weeks of the year where there are special exhibits and kids' activities in addition to the usual tour.
The kids loved the special activity -- designing, engraving and printing their own money. Really. They designed their bills with the help of tracing paper, some shapes to trace and some number and letter stencils. Then they turned the paper over to get a reverse print and engraved the image on a clear plate. The plate was inked by a plant worker and run through a hand-run spider press by another plant worker, and voila! the girls had their own money! The image above is Zoe's printed money; Maya's was a little too light to scan well, so here's her paper design:
Oh, and what the heck, in case you can't really see Zoe's printed money, here's her drawn design, too:
It was actually a pretty impressive kids' activity; I'd recommend my local friends high-tail it there before the end of the week. Watching the real money being made is really interesting, too. I learned lots of new tidbits about money, like the fact that it isn't really made of paper, but cloth. THAT explains how I can wash the same money over and over again in the washer without it falling apart!