Raleigh, N.C. is now home to a one-of-a kind interactive power grid exhibit uniquely designed and constructed for children that is slated to be the hottest tourist attraction in town this summer. Kid Grid is located in downtown Raleigh’s Marbles Kids Museum and is funded by a $1 million grant from ABB, the global leader in power and automation technology. Media and Raleigh officials saw the exhibit for the first time during a special ribbon cutting last night. Kid Grid officially opens to the public Saturday, June 7.
Kid Grid is designed to introduce 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 simulation to power up a bright future. Housed in a new addition at Marbles, Kid Grid marks the first change to the museum’s exterior since Marbles opened in 2007.
ABB employees and families collaborated with Team Marbles during initial design, brainstorming creative ways to get kids talking about energy. Engineers and experts 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.
ABB and Marbles announced the project in October 2012 as the single-largest gift in the museum’s history. Kraemer Design and Production of Cincinnati designed the exhibit, and fabrication began in fall 2013 at Pacific Studio, an exhibit production company in Seattle. In partnership with Wake County, Marbles began construction of the building addition in December 2013. In April, exhibit components were shipped 2,851 miles from Seattle to Raleigh to be reassembled at Marbles.
“Reaching children early and inspiring an interest in STEM education is important for the future of our industry,” said Greg Scheu, President and CEO of ABB North America. “We’re lucky to be in a region with great access to top universities and engineering schools – we just need to get more young people interested in these fields. By engaging children at a young age and demonstrating how exciting power and energy can be, we will continue to innovate and inspire tomorrow’s leaders.”
North Carolina’s Research Triangle has quickly developed into a technology hub. Earlier this year, President Obama announced the creation of a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation institutes. ABB was named one of the companies involved in the research and development for the institute, which is located at North Carolina State University and has a focus on power electronics.
“The Triangle is the perfect location for an innovative exhibit like Kid Grid,” said Sally Edwards, president of Marbles Kids Museum. “Opportunities in energy and technology-related fields are expanding in our area, and Marbles is a leader in providing creative STEM learning experiences for children growing up here.”
ABB’s North American corporate headquarters is based in Cary, and ABB’s Power Products/Power Systems divisional headquarters is located on North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. ABB employs more than 800 people in the Triangle and nearly 2,000 throughout North Carolina.
Marbles Kids Museum is located at 201 East Hargett Street in Raleigh.