Spark!Lab, a hands-on invention experience developed by the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, opens at Science City in Kansas City, Mo., Aug. 5, thanks to a generous donation from the Ford Motor Company Fund.
Spark!Lab reveals the stories behind inventors’ work through hands-on activities that help kids and families learn about the history and process of invention. Enriched with historical content, Spark!Lab’s interdisciplinary invention challenges appeal to varied learning styles, ages and abilities. The initial installation at the National Museum of American History, open between Nov. 21, 2008 and Oct. 6, 2011, welcomed more than 600,000 visitors. An enhanced and expanded Spark!Lab will reopen July 4, 2015 in the museum’s renovated west exhibition wing.
The Science City location, at Union Station in Kansas City, is the third site in the Spark!Lab National Network, a membership-based community focused on fostering inventive creativity in kids and families. In addition to the original Spark!Lab on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the National Network includes the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum in Reno, Nev., where Spark!Lab opened in 2011. The first international Spark!Lab—a temporary installation—ran in Kyiv, Ukraine, in Sept. 2012 and currently Spark!Lab is operating in Gurgaon, India.
“At the Lemelson Center we have always believed that everyone has the inventive spark—it’s just a matter of igniting and keeping it alive,” said Art Molella, director of the Lemelson Center. “Spark!Lab equips the next generation with the knowledge, skills and tools to positively impact the world. Bringing this vibrant experience to Kansas City and other sites around the globe is a significant step in furthering our mission.”
Science City joins the Spark!Lab National Network thanks to a 2013 gift from the Ford Motor Company Fund, which supports the design and construction of Spark!Lab at the museum and the expansion of the Spark!Lab National Network to three museums. Science City is the first of the Ford-funded Spark!Labs and will be joined in 2015 by sites in Alaska and Detroit.
“The Kansas City region has a rich history of invention and innovation. We’re therefore thrilled that Science City is the newest member of the Smithsonian’s Spark!Lab National Network. This collaboration will allow local children and families the opportunity to engage in our shared American history while practicing skills needed to succeed in the 21st century. Spark!Lab will be a wonderful addition to Union Station and a true asset to the Kansas City community,” said George Guastello, President and CEO, Union Station Kansas City.
Celebrating its centennial year in 2014, Union Station Kansas City is a historical landmark and civic asset renovated and reopened to the public in 1999. The organization, driven by its mission of science and history education and entertainment, features a science center, the popular Model Railroad Experience open year round, new planetarium, one of the region’s largest screen movie theaters, live theater, shops, restaurants and home to prominent area civic organizations and businesses. For more information, visit http://unionstation.org.
The Lemelson Center has led the study of invention and innovation at the Smithsonian since 1995. The center’s activities advance scholarship on the history of invention, share stories about inventors and their work and nurture creativity in young people. The center is supported by The Lemelson Foundation and located in the National Museum of American History. For more information, visit http://invention.smithsonian.org.
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