A million dollar gift funded an interactive play to exhibit designed to teach future engineers about power grid, electricity and safety.
While many feel that the U.S. is lagging behind other countries in science and math education, some companies are taking unique steps to encourage future engineers. Automation supplier ABB and Marbles Kids Museum are launching a play-based power grid exhibit, called Kid Grid, to generate interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in young children.
Kid Grid, located at Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, N.C., was funded by a $1 million grant from ABB. Kid Grid playfully introduces young children to electricity and power grid technology through hands-on, minds-on play. Kids explore a pretend power grid and learn how to make smart energy choices. The exhibit promotes early learning in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, inspiring the next generation of great minds through interaction and energy stimulation to power up a bright future.
Engineering companies have a vested interest in maintaining an educated workforce and breaking through traditional gender stereotypes. A shortage of American engineering graduates leaves many hi-tech companies struggling to fill jobs. In 2012, high school students from 29 industrialized nations outperformed the U.S. in math, and 22 nations outpaced the U.S. in science. Projects such as Kid Grid are designed to give children positive encouragement in STEM education at an early age.
ABB employees and families collaborated with Team Marbles during initial design, brainstorming creative ways to get kids talking about energy. Engineers from ABB continued to provide guidance and knowledge throughout design and construction to ensure Kid Grid accurately reflects a real power grid. Kid Grid is complete with play versions of cables, control systems, motors, towers and transformers as well as real equipment provided by ABB.
“Although Kid Grid is unique to North Carolina, the concept shouldn’t be,” said Greg Scheu, CEO of ABB North America. “STEM-focused industries are growing both nationally and internationally. We need to stay competitive as a nation and encourage kids to explore these areas in new and creative ways.”
The demand for highly skilled workers in STEM fields is outpacing supply. According to STEM Advantage, a non-profit coalition, STEM-related jobs are anticipated to increase by nearly 17 percent over the next decade. Of the jobs currently filled across the United States, the percentage that will require STEM education is expected to grow to more than 20 percent by 2018.