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Lemelson Center Spark!Lab Launches Virtual Invention Experience

Most Popular Activities From the Hands-On Invention Spaces Are Now Online
April 27, 2020

The Draper Spark!Lab in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is a hands-on invention activity center where visitors learn that invention is a process and everyone is inventive. To continue providing daily opportunities for children and families to explore their inventive creativity while museum spaces are closed indefinitely, Spark!Lab, in collaboration with Autodesk Inc., the software provider for people who make things, is launching a no-cost virtual online experience for Spark!Lab invention activities. Given many children, families and schools are not able to visit in person, these activities bring inventive creativity to life at home through Autodesk programs like Instructables and Tinkercad. 

“Spark!Labs, both in the museum and in network sites across the country, are physical spaces where kids are empowered to develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed today and in the future,” said Arthur Daemmrich, director of the Lemelson Center. “We are proud to continue our mission by launching a digital experience for kids to create, innovate, collaborate and problem solve from their home computers and devices—especially during this time in our global history where staying home is essential to public health.” 

There are five Spark!Lab starter activities currently available on Instructables: Invent a Musical Instrument, Reinvent the Shopping Cart, Design a Spacecraft, Design a Stadium and Help Clean Up the Ocean. These invention challenges introduce users to Tinkercad, an easy-to-use platform for design, electronics and coding. Supplemented by historical 3D content connections from the National Museum of American History, kids of all ages can explore the seven steps of the invention process, from concept to sharing their invention. More Spark!Lab activities will be added often to Instructables, ensuring that repeat visitors have something new to explore each time they visit.

“Everyone is looking for creative connections and engaging learning experiences during these changing times,” said Guillermo Melantoni, Tinkercad product line manager at Autodesk. “By teaming up with the Lemelson Center’s Spark!Lab, we’re excited to bring 3D design and coding activities to the invention process.” 

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Lemelson Center continues to lead the study of invention and innovation at the Smithsonian. 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 invention.si.edu. For more information on Spark!Lab, visit https://invention.si.edu/try/sparklab.

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