A collaboration between Toyota engineers in Ann Arbor and The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum has brought forward STEAM Park, a two-story gallery that explores the inner workings of engineering concepts and more. The space opens this month.
“STEAM Park provides multiple moments of discovery for visitors of all ages, revealing the awe and wonder of science, technology, engineering, and math through arts-inspired hands-on experiences,” says Mel Drumm, president and CEO of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. “Through an immersive and interactive experience, we hope to spark interest and inspire youth to explore the engineered world.”
The gallery consists of 23 individual exhibits created in collaboration with Toyota engineers designed for hands-on engagement that reveal mechanical marvels — such as simple machines, structures, aerodynamics, mechanical movement, and more — behind clear plexiglass.
STEAM Park was made possible by grants from the Toyota USA Foundation and Toyota North America totaling $1.5 million. Toyota’s research and development located in Michigan has collaborated on several initiatives with Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, which serves close to 400,000 visitors annually across the state.
“As Toyota transitions to a mobility company, we think that the STEAM Park really aligns with our fundamentals,” says Jeff Makarewicz, group vice president and Toyota USA Foundation director. “Through new connected, automated and electrification technologies, we are trying to solve some of the world’s most critical problems, but we can’t do it alone. We need to inspire the next generation of innovators and problem solvers, and that is what STEAM Park does.”
In addition to the STEAM Park, the museum is working to refresh the preschool gallery called STEAM Play. These renovations and new exhibits will also be supported by Toyota’s funding.
STEAM Park exhibits include:
- Time Switch Cuckoo Clock: A unique art piece, this exhibit invites exploration and interaction with a range of mechanical and electric technologies that span over 500 years from the first mechanical clocks of the late Middle Ages to the current electronic technologies we depend upon today.
- Roulette Curves: The world’s first-of-its-kind digital logarithmic spiral drawing tool machine. Visitors create beautiful repeating patterns by picking from an array of colored line widths.
- Propeller Chair:Visitors work to hoist themselves in a chair up to the ceiling and slowly propel down to experience the slow decent with gravity.
STEAM Park is included with regular admission to the museum. Admission is $16 per person, free for members and $3 each (for up to 6 people) for those holding EBT cards. Special discount membership packages will be available on opening weekend, and for a special discounted weekend in September. Normal museum hours are Tuesday through Thursday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.