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Smithsonian’s Spark!Lab for Inventors. Washington, DC

center_feature_01-rSpark!Lab

Everybody can envision the “Eureka!” moment of invention, when the idea suddenly strikes and—BOOM—there’s a new product ready to change the world. Spark!Lab, the newest hands on space for families and others visiting the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, shows the real story behind an inventor’s work.

For online access, visit the Spark!Lab Website for activities and experiments, inventor profiles, and a list of resources.

What is Spark!Lab?

Spark!Lab is a hands-on invention activity center where visitors learn that invention is a process and that everyone is inventive. The fun activities incorporate history, science, engineering, technology, and art to help kids and families learn about the history and process of invention. Young visitors can play games, conduct science experiments, explore inventors’ notebooks, and even invent! Lab bench experiments are offered at 11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.

Where is Spark!Lab?

Spark!Lab is located on 1 West of the National Museum of American History on the National Mall. It is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m, every day except December 25.

What age group should visit Spark!Lab?

Visitors of all ages are invited to visit. Most activities have been designed for children ages 6-12, though younger and older visitors can also learn from the wide range of activities. Spark!Lab has a section designed especially for children under the age of 5 and their parents/caregivers, though these children are invited to explore the rest of Spark!Lab under adult supervision. Children under the age of 13 must have an adult with them in Spark!Lab.

Are there school programs in Spark!Lab?

There are no scheduled school programs in Spark!Lab, but teachers are invited to visit with their groups on a space-available basis. Groups larger than 15 students can be split into smaller groups and rotate through Spark!Lab and several other exhibitions in the Museum. For more information about planning a group visit, please contact sparklab@si.edu or see http://www.americanhistory.si.edu/educators/visiting.cfm.

Who can participate in the lab bench experiments?

Anyone is welcome to participate in the lab bench activities. For safety reasons, children under the age of 5 must have an adult accompanying them.

When are the lab bench experiments offered?

Experiments are held at 11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m., although the schedule may be  altered according to other programs and events at the museum on a given day. Check the Spark!Lab schedule on the day you visit.

A sampling of Spark!Lab’s online experiments and activities:

Design and Play a Drum: Make a drum from materials available at home or school. Look in your recycling bin for inspiration.

Invent a Musical Whirligig
Since antiquity, people have used their imagination and common materials to invent toys, many of them active, kid-powered, and noise making–like the whirligig.

Make a Yo-Yo from Recycled Stuff

Thomas Edison said, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” With these words of wis dom in mind, we challenge you to create your own yo-yo using items found in your recycling bin

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