Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center Announces Spark!Lab Outreach Program

March 22, 2011
The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation is launching the Spark!Lab Outreach Kit Project, an effort to extend the reach of Spark!Lab—the center’s hands-on invention activity center—beyond the walls of the National Museum of American History. The kits will replicate some of the most popular Spark!Lab activities and provide opportunities for partner museums to connect their collections and exhibitions to themes of invention and innovation.
 
Activities in the Spark!Lab kits include “Shaping Space,” a structure building activity; “Now What?,” an interactive problem-solving game; “Snap Circuits,” which gives visitors the chance to use real circuit components to create and test their own electric inventions; and “Soundscapes,” which encourages kids to use items, including musical ramps, xylophone staircases and bridges with bells, to create music and sound pathways for marbles. The “Spark!Lab Jr.” program helps children under the age of 5 develop inventive thinking and problem-solving skills.
 
“At the Lemelson Center we believe that a playful approach to problem solving can spark new ideas and lead to great inventions,” said Arthur Molella, director of the center. “This outreach project allows us to reach children outside of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and inspire a new generation of inventive Americans.”
 
During this pilot program, Spark!Lab kits will be distributed to five Smithsonian Affiliate museums, including the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., the Annmarie Garden in Solomons, Md., the Western Science Center in Hemet, Calif., the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, Fla., and the Science Museum Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. The center has also partnered with one non-Affiliate museum, the Discovery Space Children’s Museum in State College, PA.
 
The Spark!Lab Affiliate program is supported by a gift from the LEGO Children’s Fund. The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center is dedicated to exploring invention in history and encouraging inventive creativity in young people. The center is supported by The Lemelson Foundation, a private philanthropy established by one of the country’s most prolific inventors, Jerome Lemelson, and his family. The Lemelson Center is located in the National Museum of American History. For more information, visit http://invention.smithsonian.org.