[Note: As I mentioned in my recent post about Dr. Jane Goodall coming to DC, I want to highlight local ways that kids and families can take action against climate change. As Goodall suggested, this action can begin with everyday choices — what we buy, what we eat, what we wear, etc. However, this guest post by Emily Moise from KID Museum shares a way for kids to truly take things into their own hands.]
KID Museum, the creative, hands-on learning space in Bethesda, MD, is challenging middle schoolers across the region to create an invention that will solve an environmental problem.
The Invent the Future Challenge, now in its third year, is part of the museum’s invention programming amplified by a district-wide partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Almost 1,000 kids participated in last year’s challenge, and the museum seeks to double that this year by reaching more schools and students beyond MCPS.
The challenge question is a big one — What will you make to protect life on this planet? — but the guidelines are simple:
Form a team of 3-6 middle school students and one adult team coordinator.
Make a physical representation of your invention.
Spend no more than $60 on materials for your invention.
Present at the Challenge Summit in May for a chance to win awards & prizes.
Photo Credit: Edwin Remsberg Photography
Kids can get involved in the challenge through STEM-focused clubs and teachers at school, or on their own with a parent coordinator. School groups can visit KID Museum for Invention Studio field trips — skill-building sessions in design, engineering, electronics, coding, and prototyping — or through Invent the Future weekend workshops at the museum.
Previous award winners include a “smart tree” for early-detection of forest fires, a coded water-rationing device for showers, and solar panels that double as advertising on buses and buildings. Winners received tickets to local amusement parks and awards to display at their schools, and were invited to exhibit at FutureFest, KID Museum’s annual family festival.
And for the grown-ups, there are other ways to get involved in the challenge and support KID Museum’s mission to inspire the next generation of changemakers. You can serve as a mentor at an Innovation Exchange or as a judge at the Challenge Summit. The Summit is also open to the public and should make you very hopeful for the future!
[Note: KID Museum is now located in Downtown Bethesda!]
I have no good excuse for not visiting KID Museum in Montgomery County before this summer. The space that provides fun, innovative learning experiences for young makers has been around for several years, and I’ve been aware of it, have even promoted some of their events on the blog, but until a few weeks ago, had never actually been there. Sure, it’s not exactly down the street from me, but still…no excuse.
That’s because KID Museum is a pretty awesome place for kids, especially those who enjoy hands-on activities that encourage invention, creativity, experimentation, and discovery. Located on the lower level of Davis Library in North Bethesda, it’s generally comprised of a large open space with activity stations and Maker Studios, with workshops that offer opportunities to implement and enjoy all of this and then some.
When we were invited to take a tour one Sunday back in July there were kids and parents doing everything from building ziplines to constructing marble mazes out of cardboard to creating balloon cars to making Calder-inspired mobiles and much, much more. The whole place was buzzing with excitement as children and adults worked on their projects and tested them out or tinkered with a variety of materials and tools. Staff — Maker Educators and high school Apprentices — are at each station to demo projects and help kids as they need it, all of them friendly and enthusiastic.
This is all open to the community for drop-in visits on weekends from 10am – 5pm ($12/child, membership options also available), and KID Museum offers more scheduled programming to school groups during weekdays and to kids in Kindergarten through 9th grade after school and during summer, winter, and spring breaks. During those in-depth programs, kids can build skills in coding, robotics, engineering, and more.
Visit the KID Museum website for more information about their ongoing programs for kids and families.
Where: 3 Metro Center | Bethesda, MD
When: Sundays Open Explore, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $15/age 3+