Our museum is temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.

National Museum of American History Hosts Innovation Festival Sept. 26 – 27

September 15, 2015

How will today’s inventors shape the world of tomorrow? A free, two-day Innovation Festival, Saturday, Sept. 26, and Sunday, Sept. 27, presented by the Smithsonian and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will attempt to answer that question. The festival, in the new Innovation Wing at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, will include hands-on activities, demonstrations, talks with inventors and the opportunity to learn about the patent process.

Visitors will be able to interact with the 13 official participants; they can try on clothes with Zugara, taste-test chocolate flavors with Mars, Incorporated, see the process of water being converted into wiper fluid with Wiperfill and interact with a model of Kansas State University’s Peptide hydrogel, a biomaterial being researched for use in medical-device applications. 

On hand for the festival will be Lego Mindstorm legends Shubham Banerjee and Cameron Kruse. Banerjee will display the Braigo Braille printer he designed in 2014 with a Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit as an entry for his seventh-grade science fair project. Kruse will give an interactive demonstration of the baseball deglossing machine, a device that simulates the baseball-rubbing process that is required for professional baseball to remove the shiny gloss of a new ball by scuffing the surface, which he created as a teenager using Lego bricks and a Mindstorms kit.

Several Smithsonian partners will be featured at the festival, including the Hagley Museum, which will present interactive demonstrations about innovation and the development of technology. These brief, family-oriented activities explore the topics of biomimicry, waterpower and transmission of power. Physiclo, a resistance active-wear company, will allow visitors to interact with a life-size human mannequin wearing the company’s clothing. The mannequin has a full range of motion to demonstrate the firm’s unique resistance technology. The Art of Science Learning is a National Science Foundation-funded initiative that uses the arts to spark creativity in science education. This team will conduct a hands-on workshop aimed at tweens and teens to explore and experiment with arts-based rapid prototyping innovation techniques while learning about “the science behind the art.”

The National Museum of American History is home to the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. In the Lemelson Center Gallery is Spark!Lab where activities for children ages 6 to 12 incorporate traditional science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills with art, history and creativity. “Things That Roll” is the current theme and includes prototyping small robots, gyroscopes and reinventing the skateboard. During the festival, the Spark!Lab will be open and museum curators will showcase out-of-storage objects that complement the themes of innovation and patented technology.

Thirteen companies, universities, government agencies and independent inventors were chosen by a juried panel to participate in the festival and present their inventions: C.G.I. Technology, Ford Global Technologies, Kansas State University, Mars, Incorporated, NASA, NRG Insulated Block, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Solar Turbines Inc., U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service, University of Pittsburgh’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Virginia Commonwealth University working with the University of Oklahoma, Wiperfill and Zugara. 

For a complete schedule of talks and a list of activities for both days, go to: https://americanhistory.si.edu/topics/innovation/pages/innovation-festival.

Through unrivaled collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the richness and complexity of American history. The museum helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The National Museum of American History is located on Constitution Avenue N.W. between 12th and 14th streets and is operating on summer hours from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (unless closing early for a special event). Admission is free. For more information, visit https://americanhistory.si.edu.