Spark!Lab is an educational, interactive work space developed at the Smithsonian Institution by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History (NMAH). Spark!Lab is a hands-on, creative laboratory that engages children and families in the process of innovation.
Spark!Lab features ten activities that challenge visitors to solve problems through their own resourcefulness using materials and tools provided in the space. Each activity invites visitors to discover a new way to perform a task, find a solution to a practical problem, or otherwise “think outside the box.” For example, visitors may create soundscapes, develop a new measuring tool, invent a new kind of moving vehicle, play a percussion instrument from recycled materials, or even design spaces to meet architectural challenges such as mobile emergency housing. Visitors of all ages can work together to combine skills and ideas to create inventions with real-world applications.
Based on the success of the original Spark!Lab located in the NMAH from 2008 to 2011, the Smithsonian is developing a national network of Spark!Labs in collaboration with partner institutions. The Berkshire Museum will be one of the first five organizations in the country to host a Spark!Lab.
The installation and operation of Spark!Lab is supported, in part, by the Feigenbaum Foundation, the Pittsfield Rotary Foundation, and other friends of the Berkshire Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate.