Toyota Motor North America, which operates the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, has donated $1.4 million to the Detroit-based Michigan Science Center. The funds will be used to upgrade the center’s Toyota Engineering Theater, a 4D multimedia experience, and expand STEM education programs.
Upgrades to the Toyota Engineering Theater will include a new HD projection system with 3D viewing capabilities, enhanced space and lighting, and the creation of universally designed videos for 4D theaters and standard digital media players.
“It’s critical to foster innovative thinking at a young age,” says Jeff Makarewicz, senior vice president of the Toyota Technical Center. “Developing that interest early on can create great opportunities not only for students but for the industry as well.”
The center will also use the funds to develop new programming and educational initiatives for teachers and students that will be used in conjunction with the theater and across the state.
“Toyota’s donation allows the Science Center to do more than just upgrade the (Toyota Engineering Theater),” says Tonya Matthews, president and CEO of the Michigan Science Center. “This is an opportunity for us to present STEM in a relatable and relevant way, while increasing student interest in STEM careers.”
She says as the region continues to face a shortage of STEM professionals, it’s important to expose children to available opportunities and careers.
Since 2012, the Toyota Engineering Theater has hosted more than 94,000 visitors.