Friday, January 15, 2010

U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Today the kids and I along with one of Little Miss's friends and her mom went to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

I have been wanting to take a "field trip" to the BEP for some time but I wanted to take both of the kids. So since Little Miss is in school full-time I had to wait until there was a non-federal holiday to be able to go.

What a great outing!

On the way there I made a "worksheet" for the kids (I'm such a teacher!) that had four large circles and a large rectangle on it. We then gave each kid a quarter, dime, nickel, penny, and a dollar bill. Each child was supposed to draw each coin onto the circle and the dollar bill into the rectangle.

Here's what we ended up with :) I think if they'd had more time (they did these in the car on the way to the BEP) that they might have turned out pretty good!

You are not allowed to take any electronic equipment into the building so we left all of our stuff in the car, went through security, and then boarded the bus that takes you into the main building. We were the Red Tour group. Since our tour didn't start right away we went around the downstairs and learned about security features of the new notes, how to recover money that has been damaged, and how notes were made originally. We also saw the many different versions of notes through the years.

Then we set off on the tour. We got to see millions of dollars being printed, sorted, cut, stacked, and inspected. I believe that they said that they make around $267 million dollars every day and this year they will be making $151 billion for the Federal Reserve. After the tour we went and watched the educational video. It was really interesting. We learned that the engraved plates that are used to imprint the bills are hand engraved. An engraver must complete a 10 year engraver apprenticeship in order to actually engrave the plates and they do it all by hand ~ it was amazing to see.

Finally we toured the upstairs. The two most interesting displays for me were the note magnifier and the damaged note section. The note magnifier let us zoom in super close (that's the scientific term) to each bill and see the amazing security features added to each note including miniscule writing on different parts of each note. The damaged note section told how there are people at the Federal Reserve that are pretty much "forensic money" detectives. They can take severely damaged money and figure out the denominations of the bills. There was a story of a man that had been saving money his whole life by putting it behind his furnace in the basement. When he died his wife took the money only to find that it had "melted" together into solid bricks of money. She sent it to the Reserve and they examined the money and were able to determine that the value of the money that she had sent in was somewhere near $325,000 and they sent her a check for that amount.

Obviously I had a great time today. It was a little over the kids heads but they had fun just the same!

Here are the only pictures that we were able to take at the Bureau today :)

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