Spark!Lab, a national exhibit developed at the Smithsonian Institution that offers hands-on activities for kids, opens Saturday at the Michigan Science Center in Detroit's Midtown district.
The Spark!Lab exhibit at Michigan Science Center — the lab's fifth location in the country — features hands-on activities designed to help children problem solve, invent, innovate, and engage in creative and collaborative thinking, says Tricia Edwards, education specialist for Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. She says the exhibit will have on-site facilitators who will interact with children in a non-restrictive environment, encouraging them to continue thinking and expand on an innovation.
One station, for example, has educational cards featuring real world architecture, such as an air-conditioned building in the desert city of Dubai that enables snow skiing, to help promote thinking "outside of the box.”
Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co. and the Ford Motor Co. Fund are supporting the Spark!Lab, the automaker's latest collaboration with the Smithsonian — a partnership that dates back 40 years. Recently, Ford donated $1 million to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
"New ideas and innovations spring from creative minds," says Jim Vella, president of Ford Company Fund and Community Services. "Spark!Lab allows children and families to interact and experience the joy the comes with learning.”
Overall, the Michigan Science Center works with nearly 300,000 visitors annually, says Tonya Matthews, president and CEO of the Michigan Science Center. "The Smithsonian actually came to the Science Center and offered us the opportunity to participate in this partnership to celebrate opening Spark!Lab,” she says.
Spark!Lab also has locations in Anchorage, Kansas City, Mo., and Washington, D.C.